peak fall

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I think Trondheim finally hit peak fall color in the past week (yes, I know, I am still talking about autumn, but I just can’t get over how long and slow it is here!). But on Tuesday a serious windstorm blew through and knocked down quite a few of the leaves. I have a few snaps from the weekend and the past few days, though, that show some of the beautiful golden color I’ve been surrounded by lately. Luckily, there are still a few leaves still hanging on even after the windstorm, though these photos are all from beforehand.

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I’ve also finished a few knitting projects lately. Both the No Frills I mentioned in my last post, as well as the Featherweight Cardigan you can see in this one, and I also finished up a new design. We got to take some pattern photos last weekend, pre-windstorm, and it was nice to take advantage of the fall colors both on the trees and blanketing the ground. These mitts are for a pattern that will be called Oak Hollow, about which more soon.

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If it’s fall in your part of the world, I hope you’re getting the chance to soak up some color. The autumn gold that’s ubiquitous in Norway always makes me feel like I’m in Lothlorien (especially if it’s a birch grove), and I love it so much.

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transitions

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Trondheim in the autumn continues to charm. I’m starting to adjust to the general level of busy-ness that my life here is going to involve, but it’s definitely been a big shift for me. Partly that’s because I’m still working on some patterns in the background along with my new day job at the university; partly it’s because my PhD coursework has started as well and my to-do list is growing longer; and partly it’s because we’ve still been living in temporary accommodations and it can be a challenge to get into routines when there are things about your living situation you can’t change. But we’ll be moving into our new long-term home in November, and I’m really looking forward to that.

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While we wait for that, though, the weather continues to shift. The leaves are changing, but we still haven’t reached peak color yet. We had a couple of weeks of solid rain in the middle of the month before the sun came back out last week. I was in Kraków for a conference the tail end of last week and over the weekend, and I got home to Trondheim last night after dark. This morning I woke up to much cooler weather than we had last week (a few degrees above 0°C) and saw that the higher peaks in Bymarka (which are still relatively low) had a dusting of snow on them. The mountains across the fjord, as well. Now it well and truly feels like Norwegian autumn. I love Norway at this time of year, and I still can’t get over how much longer and slower the autumn is here in Trondheim compared with up north in Tromsø. This city is truly beautiful in its fall colors.

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One of the things the weather’s change has brought on is a mild panic over the fact that I don’t have that many warm clothes in my suitcases with me (the rest of our clothes are packed away with the belongings we moved from Montreal – patiently waiting in storage for us to move into our new place in November). I feel like I haven’t had much time for knitting recently, but now I’m determined to knit a little more and a little faster, if I can. I have two sweaters which are only missing sleeves, so I feel like with some concentrated knitting time in the evenings I could finish this No Frills sweater by next weekend.

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I don’t usually knit the same pattern over and over, but this will be my third No Frills (or Ingen dikkedarer as it’s known in Scandinavia), and I’m approaching this one a little differently than my first two. I’ll elaborate more on that when it’s finished, perhaps, because each of them is different and brings something unique to my wardrobe even as they all feel like everyday staples. I adore this color, a limited edition colorway of Hillesvåg Tinde made for Drople Design called Villbringebær (“wild raspberry”). It’s a color I fell head over heels in love with when Anne first launched it over a year ago and I’m so thrilled to finally be knitting a garment with it.

So I’ve been enjoying knitting on this sweater very much, even if it’s felt like slow going. Knitting on a wooly sweater goes so well with changing colors, chilly rainy days, and the smell of woodsmoke in the air, after all. I’ve been getting into the spirit of autumn in other ways too. Some of the local apples have been wonderful recently, and the other week I baked a fyriskaka (a Swedish apple cake with cardamom) from Fika, which is one of my favorite bakes for this time of year. I also received a massive bag of little plums from a friend at work – the plum tree in her garden went crazy this year, it seems – and I managed to turn some of those into a few jars of pickled plums and roasted plum butter. I’ve been enjoying the plum butter on toast or lomper in the mornings for breakfast. (We’ll see about the pickles, which were more of an experiment.)

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I’ve also been getting out for long walks or little hikes whenever possible. Now that I’ve seen that the snow is encroaching on the mountains in Bymarka, I’d like to get in a short hike in the next week or two to soak up the season. I always enjoy walking by the water as well. I’m always drawn to the water like a magnet – the smell of saltwater was another thing I missed so much in Montreal. The Trondheim Fjord can feel so much like Puget Sound in Washington state, a similarity I really enjoy.

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Of course there are challenges that come with this transitional season (both of the year but also of our lives), but overall we have fallen in love with this city, and I was so happy to come home to it after a weekend away. I can’t help but feel incredibly lucky that we get to live here. Vi trives godt her i Trondheim.

september

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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.

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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.

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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.

a few summer knits

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 monastery, 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?

lately

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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.

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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.

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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.

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edinburgh

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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).

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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.

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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 MinaMinaMina, then Espace TricotCalon 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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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looking back at 2018

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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):

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From left to right –
Row 1: Frost FlowersLyngenAlice Mittens
Row 2: Mountain HumPolar NightNorth Wind
Row 3: West WindCloud PineAdrian
Row 4: OpalDortheaTurlough
Row 5: DrumlinWeekend Walking MittsCaithness
Row 6: Tremblant ToqueLe Massif ScarfSutton Slippers
Row 7: Stoneham PonchoBromont MittsBrave at Heart
Row 8: Just and LoyalWit Beyond MeasureGreat 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.

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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.

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l’hiver est arrivé

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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.

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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 DaviesMilarrochy Heids.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

the norwegian knitting industry museum

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Norway’s been on my mind lately and I realized I have a whole heap of photos I never got around to sharing from the Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum (aka the Norsk Trikotasjemuseum) that I took when I had the chance to visit the museum with my friend Jena nearly two years ago (!). The museum is located just outside of Bergen and I shared it on my list of places to visit in my Bergen piece for Mason Dixon Knitting, so I thought some of you might enjoy seeing it in a little bit more detail.

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Before it was a museum, the Salhus Tricotasjefabrikk was a textile mill and factory – one that not only spun wool into yarn, but also created machine-knit fabrics in house and turned those into ready-to-wear pieces like sweaters, activewear, and underwear. It’s a rare factory where all three of those processes would take place under the same roof, but I think it makes the museum especially interesting to visit. It was active from 1859 to 1989, and later on became a museum.

It’s located in Salhus, about 15 km north of Bergen on the Salhus Fjord. It’s tucked right into the bottom of a hill at the water’s edge, on a creek that flows down to the fjord (and which was the original power source for the museum, as for most old mills and factories in Norway). The houses peppering the steep hillside and the small marina outside make it a particularly picturesque location.

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The entrance to the museum leads you into the large cafe space with a wall of windows facing the fjord. This is where visitors can sit down with a cup of coffee or juice and some baked treats or sandwiches, but it’s also where many of the museum’s regular knitting events are held (such as knit cafes or author’s talks). It’s a welcoming space and the view of the water is beautiful.

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Guided tours of the factory are given in Norwegian and English and visitors are shown a short film before the tour begins. You’re taken through each section of the factory, so you get to see where each stage of the process from wool to garment took place: carding, spinning, winding, knitting, and sewing. Today, the machinery is used to knit scarves, socks, and sweaters that can be purchased in the gift shop.

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When it comes to the sweaters that the museum produced, Salhus specialized in a type of garment known as an islender. This means “Icelander” in Norwegian, and Annemor Sundbø refers to them as “Iceland sweaters” in her book Everyday Knitting. She asserts that despite the name, this type of sweater may have originated in the Faroe Islands:

“In 1798, Jørgen Landt described Faroese sweaters with small figures, fine well made sweaters for the local inhabitants, and coarser garments for sale and export. Toward the end of the 1880’s, Faroese export of knitwear increased, and these garments were often made of imported Icelandic wool, which the Faroese bartered for other commodities. This may be the explanation for the term ‘Iceland sweaters’, but then again similar sweaters were also produced in Jutland in Denmark and Halland in Sweden . . . There were several small patterns which were widely used in Faroese knitting.”

– from Everyday Knitting by Annemor Sundbø (2001)

Sundbø goes on to discuss machine-knitted islender, which were “very popular work clothes.” She mentions Devold, one of the producers of what may be the prototypical Norwegian islender, with its small repetitive motifs in black on natural white:

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Devold still produces this style of islender today. While I think this is what most people picture when they hear the term, some people use it more broadly to refer to similar sweaters which use different motifs, but to the a similar effect (other people might categorize these sweaters as sponsetrøyer instead, but to go down that road is to get into the nitty-gritty details of Norwegian knitwear nomenclature, so I’ll leave it there). Many of the Salhus fabrics were variations on the typical islender, such as the examples below:

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(Images via Museumssenteret i Hordaland, downloaded from digitaltmuseum.no)

Both of the above examples come from Salhus Trikotasjefabrikk – the top example is a swatch for the fabric and collar of a more classic black and white islender, though the motifs are slightly different than the version produced by Devold. The one on the bottom is a different pattern and also makes use of different colors, but it’s still very typical of the sweaters that Salhus produced. The museum maintains an archive of different patterned fabrics, with some of the patterns perhaps never actually being put into production (but more on that at a later date!).

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I found the whole guided tour really interesting – our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and engaging, and it was fun to see such a wide variety of textile-specific machinery being demonstrated. I think I was also a little surprised at how light and bright so much of the factory felt, but of course when it was first built, the workers would have had to rely on natural light and the many windows (and even skylights!) allowed for that. (Bonus: for those of you who can understand Norwegian, you should check out the podcast episode that Kristin and Ingvild of Strikketerapi filmed in the museum with an audience at last year’s Bergen Strikkefestival – it’s quite cool to see them in that setting!)

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The museum shop sells a variety of interesting stuff, including ready-to-wear knitted garments and accessories, as I mentioned previously. My own souvenir, though, was some of the museum’s yarn, Museumstvinn. While they no longer do full-scale yarn production, the museum does have a selection of yarns that are plied on their machinery (the individual plies are spun up the road at Hillesvåg before they’re sent down to Salhus). I was particularly drawn to the interesting marled yarns spun from plies of slightly different shades, like the blue one above.

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There’s a large open space used for rotating exhibitions (and it was the location of the marketplace at last year’s Bergen Strikkefestival, which the museum hosts and which I hope to attend someday). It’s beautifully bright and airy, and when I visited in 2016 they had an embroidery exhibit going on. I have such a soft spot for so much of the Norwegian embroidery – I’ve held myself back from collecting old cross-stitched cushions (like the ones below) and decorative klokkestreng wall hangings, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before a few find their way into my home.

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In case it isn’t obvious, if you find yourself in Bergen I definitely think the Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum is worth a visit! Jena and I drove to the museum, but it’s possible to get to the museum using the public transit as well (see the bus instructions on the museum’s page here). It takes about 1.5-2 hours to tour the museum, but be sure to build in some extra time not only for getting to and from the museum, but also for browsing the shop and hanging out in the cafe (with a bit of knitting, of course). The guided tours happen at scheduled times, so you should check the schedule before you plan your trip to make sure you won’t miss the last tour of the day.

P.S.: A small postscript about the name, because those of you with knowledge of French probably picked up on the loanword in the factory’s original name: Salhus Trikotasjefabrikk. The ‘sj’ combination forms sound we spell with ‘sh’ in English, so this is the modern Norwegianized version of French tricotage (it was actually spelled the French way at the time of the factory’s founding). Norwegian uses the Scandinavian word for hand knitting: ‘to knit’ is å strikke and ‘knitted garments’ are strikkede plagg. So why the French loanword here? In my experience, I’ve seen trikotasje associated with knitting on an industrial scale (i.e. commercial machine knitting), while strikk is associated with knitting by hand. Since the Salhus factory created machine knit fabrics, we see that reflected in the name.