a trip and a pattern sale

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In a sort of continuation of my last post: while we small business owners are very lucky to do what we get to do, and I am so immensely grateful for the community of talented and creative people I get to work with regularly, small business can be a slog. December, in the run-up to Christmas, tends to be the best month of the year for many, many retail businesses, and this includes small businesses (perhaps especially so for yarny ones). So perhaps this is a bit crazy of me – but I’m taking December off. Last year, during the month of December, I found myself getting really burned out. I’d had an incredibly busy fall season and was facing deadlines on top of the bustle and stress of the holiday season and the personal toll that can take – and I realized right then that I didn’t want to be in that place this year.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to the airport, bound for Europe! My husband and I are taking three weeks to travel from England to Istanbul by train. I am so excited. We’ll be covering old ground and new: both places we’ve been before and places we never thought we’d end up. I’ve loaded up my phone with bilingual dictionaries and language learning apps and I can’t wait to take a million photos.

I’ll be periodically checking email and Ravelry, so I’ll still be on hand to answer questions, but my response time will very likely be slower than normal. Additionally, wholesale orders are on hold until I’m back in the office the first week of January.

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As a treat, both because I’ll be semi out-of-the-office and also because I love the holiday season, all Paper Tiger patterns will be 25% off for the month of December! Simply use the coupon code papertigerholiday at checkout. There’s no minimum purchase and you can use the code more than once! Please note that the sale applies to Paper Tiger patterns on Ravelry only; patterns published by third parties (Brooklyn Tweed, etc.) are not included. The sale will run from December 1st to December 31st (Pacific Standard Time). Thank you all for making what I do possible.

P.S. For those of you who are as uncomfortable as I am with “Black Friday” as both a name and an idea, you might find this an interesting read. The popularly given origin of the term, the red-to-black story, is a total myth. My aversion to the Black Friday phenomenon (and the fact that it’s spreading beyond U.S. borders) is largely why my own sale isn’t starting until December.

southern fiords

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When I designed the Fjordland hat for Pom Pom Quarterly last year, I had an idea in my head for a matching pair of socks (not necessarily to be worn with the hat, but composed of the same basic colors and motifs). Of course, Tosh Sock in the same colorways as the hat would make for a truly matching set, but when Tash of Knitsch Yarns and Holland Road Yarn Company offered up some Knitsch sock yarn to play with, I saw an opportunity.

I first read about Tash, her shop, and her yarn in an issue of Extra Curricular (I can’t recall which off the top of my head), and when I went on Ravelry to look her up, I discovered she was getting ready to run a Vasa KAL (blogged here)! We’ve been in touch ever since. You may remember that Extra Curricular, which I’ve written about here before, is a New Zealand publication, one I discovered while in New Zealand on my honeymoon in 2013. Sadly, I didn’t know about Holland Road Yarn Co. at that time, but I fell in love with Wellington, the area where Tash’s shops are, so when she suggested I do a design with Knitsch sock yarn, I jumped at the chance. I knew pretty quickly what I wanted to do, too.

One of the places I had the opportunity to visit in New Zealand was Fiordland National Park, on the South Island. The South Island is an incredible place, full of some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen, but Fiordland National Park is especially spectacular. The fiords have much in common with those of Norway, but they’re very different, too. Where Norway’s are arctic, these were undeniably lush.

Chris and I took a boat tour of Milford Sound, the only fiord that can be accessed by road. The weather is changeable and often uncooperative, and so as we set off, the sheer cliffs to either side of our boat rose into misty clouds, their peaks hidden from view. By the time our boat had traversed the fiord and made it back to the dock, however, the clouds were breaking and the sun shone down on us.

Enter Southern Fiords. It’s a bit ridiculous to compare a humble pair of socks to something as ancient and immense as a fiord, but there’s a connection in the inspiration all the same. I wanted the socks, inspired by these very different fiords, to have a different feeling than the Fjordland hat, even though they’re tied together by other characteristics. The colors of Knitsch Sock that I chose (HydroBlunderbuss, and Plain and Simple) reflect that different character, I think.

As Knitsch sock is a 100% merino yarn, these socks are probably better suited for hanging out at home and daydreaming than for actual adventuring, and that’s what we went with for the photo story. I pulled out my stack of Extra Curricular mags, a few books, and some of my favorite NZ records and the lovely Kathy Cadigan came over and took photos while I hung out in my living room, playing records and dancing like a fool. I’m so pleased with Kathy’s photos and I think she did a lovely job of showing off the socks as well as creating a cozy mood.

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One of my favorite things about these socks is how well they illustrate the importance of shade or value in colorwork (that is, how light or dark a color is), especially when compared to the Fjordland hat. Both items are worked up with a main color (blue) and two contrasting colors (green and white), but on the hat the contrasting colors are very close in value, while with the socks the main color and one of the contrasting colors (green) are much closer together in value as a result of the lighter blue and the darker green. This is most apparent on the two-color rib, but the difference is clear throughout the whole of each piece:

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This means that the finished objects feel very different from each other, regardless of the fact that the motifs are identical. But more on shade value in colorwork at a later date! For now, sock details:

These are worked cuff-down in the round, with a slip stitch heel flap and a rounded toe, which is grafted together at the end. These are written for DPNs, but if you’re used to working your socks another way, they’ll be easy enough to adapt. The colorwork means these are a great way to use up sock yarn scraps (the yardage estimates listed on the Ravelry page are generous), and if you’re anything like me, you have a lot of those hanging around (I don’t even knit that many socks!). Head over to the Ravelry page for all the pertinent details like yarn and needle requirements, sizes, and a full list of pattern characteristics, or to purchase a digital PDF copy. If you’re a LYS wholesale customer (or you’d like to be one), Southern Fiords will also be available in a hard copy booklet which will be added to the line sheet very soon.

norsk folkemuseum part 2: indoors

I’ve been back from Norway for nearly two weeks and I’m finally settling in again and beginning to get back into a work flow. It’s so easy to forget how much of a buffer is sometimes needed between long travel and diving back into work. In any case, today I’m writing about the other half of the Norwegian Folkemuseum in Oslo: the indoor exhibits!

There are a host of different permanent exhibitions inside the main museum buildings (you can view the list here), my favorite of which were the exhibits on folk dress and folk art, and of course, the knitting history exhibit.

The gallery was dark, so as to protect the items on display, which means it wasn’t the best place to try and take photos of things (as is usually the case). I grabbed a few, though. In particular, I was pretty smitten with this chair:

Between the carving, the painting, and the woven seat cushion, it’s a crazy and beautiful amalgamation of several different folk arts.

There was a wonderful description of the Husflidsbevegelsen, the home crafts movement that is the origin of the modern husflidslag:

“Due to the great changes that occurred in rural society during the second half of the 1800s, long-standing traditions in crafts gradually began to vanish. In order to halt this trend, and to combat unemployment and poverty, the home crafts movement arose in the 1860s. Starting in the 1880s, museums of applied art became involved in this movement, primarily in order to ensure high artistic quality, but also as a result of the national romantic spirit of the times. In 1891, three home crafts associations in Kristiania (later renamed Oslo) merged to form the Norwegian Association for Home Arts and Crafts [Den Norske Husflidsforening]. This association opened shops in the city, and established a contact network with producers all over the country. The home crafts movement flourished, and similar associations were established in many towns, and eventually throughout the country.”

The husflid movement is still going strong today, with organizations all over the country (you can find their website, in Norwegian only, at husflid.no). The closest equivalent I can think of in the U.S. would be the guild system, but it’s not an exact equivalent. A husflidslag from a specific area of Norway will be interested in protecting the regional crafts and styles historically specific to that area, for example, and they cover far more than just knitting. Many of the regional organizations have shops you can visit, and the national Norges Husflidslag has a shop on the bottom floor of the historic GlasMagasinet department store in the middle of downtown Oslo. The yarn selection is great, for the record!

But back to the museum: the Knitting History section was small, but they managed to cover a lot. I could’ve simply stared at the items on display:

That’s an original copy of Annichen Sibbern Bøhn’s landmark Norske Strikkemønstre (Norwegian Knitting Designs, 1929) to the left. Annichen spent 1927 traveling around Norway collecting different designs and patterns, taking photographs of samples, and writing charts for the different designs. It’s a wonderful source of inspiration for anyone interested in Norwegian knitting and while the book was out of print for years, it’s been republished thanks to Terri Shea (author of Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition). You can take a peek here, and if you’re interested in learning more about Annichen, you can check out the PDF of an article Terri wrote for Piecework Magazine here (PDF link).

Moving to the right from Annichen’s book, there’s a stocking from Selbu, a mohair brush, and a collection of straight and circular needles in different sizes. And that painted needle case on the end!

There was also a large selection of sweaters on display. Lurking up on the wall, in the top right-hand corner of the photo, there’s a Skappelgenser, the super simple sweater that took Norway by storm in 2012 (I’ve knit one myself). Many Norwegians who weren’t knitters learned to knit to make themselves a Skappelgenser.

There was also a case full of sweaters designed by Unn Søiland Dale, who designed many sweaters for the Sandnes factory. Her most famous and most recognizeable design (especially as it’s seeing a resurgence right now), is the iconic blue, red, and white Marius sweater. Many of her sweater designs became Norwegian icons and are still recognizeable today, like the Marius sweater. Check out this lady’s style:

There was also a beautiful temporary exhibition on when I visited, featuring photography by Italian photographer Luca Berti. Luca cycles around Norway taking photos of people and the countryside, and the results are gorgeous. The photos were shot recently, but most are shot on film and many with large format cameras, so they feel quite nostalgic. That exhibition is up through September.

My souvenir from the museum gift shop was splurging on a book:

Ren Ull, or Pure Wool, by Tone Skårdal Tobiassen and Ingun Grimstad Klepp. It is exactly as it sounds: a book all about Norwegian wool. It’s a history, an account of wool in the lives of everyday Norwegians, and it tells the story of wool from sheep to product. Here’s an English translation of the description from the book jacket:

Wool is part of the Norwegian soul, a warming gold that is spun, knitted, woven, and transformed into wonderful products like our national costumes, sweaters and undergarments, upholstery and rugs. Everyone knows that the South Pole was reached because of Amundsen’s wool undergarments, and everyone knows that wool is tantamount to a happy childhood. With winter sport idols Vegard Ulvang and Kari Traa (who added a dose of sex appeal), wool  undergarments have undergone a renaissance.

In PURE WOOL we follow the path from sheep to product. Here you’ll find the story of quality, Norwegian industry, nostalgia and tradition, and modern design. Here also we discount several myths – for modern wool neither scratches nor shrinks. The starting point is Norwegian sheep, but in a globalized world, the wool takes some detours that few know or think about. So let yourself be surprised and seduced into a world that affects us all. [Translation mine.]

It was released in conjunction with The Campaign for Wool‘s Wool Week in 2013, Norway being one of several other countries that has taken up the campaign since it was started in the UK in 2010. I’m so pleased to know that the importance of wool is being given real recognition in a country like Norway where it has historically been so important. I’m not terribly far into the book yet (I’m a much slower reader in Norwegian than in English) but it’s chock full of color photos past and present, and the topics covered are certainly wide. I’m really enjoying it, and I’d definitely recommend it to any Norwegian speakers (as far as I know, there is no English translation). It is nice to be reading it as I prep for the Nordic Knitting Conference, and I have a feeling a lot of the subject matter may come up in my classes.

All in all, the Folkemuseum on Bydøy is absolutely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Oslo. Give yourself at least a whole day – it’s the largest museum of cultural history in Norway, after all – and try to go when the weather’s decent so you can enjoy the open-air museum. It’s also a great spot to hit if you’re doing research on many aspects of Norwegian culture, and you can read about the collections and archives of the museum here.

norsk folkemuseum part 1: the open-air museum

I’ve been wanting to get to the Norsk Folkemuseum on Bygdøy all summer, and last week I finally made it! The official English name is the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m simply going to refer to it as the Folkemuseum. One of the perks of attending the International Summer School at UiO is that students get free entry to several museums around Oslo with their ISS student cards, and the Folkemuseum is among them (lucky me!).

I’ll be writing about the Folkemuseum in two posts, because it’s a vast and multidimensional museum, one I could easily spend several days at. In a way, it’s several museums in one: there are many indoor exhibits, permanent and temporary, dealing with the life of Norwegian people over time in a variety of different areas, but there’s also a large open-air museum outdoors. The indoor exhibits were quite good, but I must admit the open-air section of the museum was my favorite. I’ll be writing about that first.

The museum was officially founded in 1894 and established at Bygdøy in 1898. All of the buildings that belong to the open-air museum are actual historical buildings that were moved from their original locations to the museum over the last 100+ years, which is pretty remarkable. They’re laid out according to their location of origin, so there are many sections corresponding to geographic regions, such as Telemark, Setesdal, Hallingdal, and so on:

23e1125d32e9bf1c-friluftsmuseum(image courtesy of the Norsk Folkemuseum)

The first two buildings that the museum acquired were a bur and a loft, both from Telemark. The bur is a storehouse, and in this case it was the larder on the farm. The loft was the guesthouse, where guests to the farm would be lodged and entertained. A majority of the buildings in the open-air museum are from old farmsteads, and storehouses, lofts, and farmhouses from different parts of the country, from several different points in history. I found myself thinking often of Kristin Lavransdatter, the classic trio of novels by Sigrid Undset that depicts the life of a woman in 14th century Norway. None of the buildings in the museum are quite as old as that, but the first farmhouse I stepped into was from the second half of the 1600s, and farmsteads hadn’t changed all that much by then: the buildings were largely the same, the crops were largely the same, the wife/mother of the farm was still the keeper of the keys to the storehouse, etc. It’s quite an experience to be transported back in time simply by stepping into a building (through a very low doorway, I might add). In any case, here are the loft and bur from Telemark, which date from the mid-1700s:

I adore the intricate wood carving and sod roofs. Both are typical of Norwegian buildings from the countryside, and the spectacular woodworking skills of the Norwegians were also put to use on one of my favorite types of buildings: the stave church. The Folkemuseum has a stave church of its own, from Gol:

Built of sturdy pine, the Gol stave church dates from around 1200. The stave churches first appeared in the latter years of the Viking era, after King Olaf Tryggvason converted Norway to Christianity. At that point the Norwegian churches were Catholic, and the Norwegians simply took the concepts of the layout of a Catholic church (nave, circular apse, columns, vaulted ceilings, etc.) and used traditional construction techniques to apply them. This meant churches were built entirely of wood, with tarred exteriors (to weatherproof the building) and often an exterior set of walls for extra protection, which created a sort of hallway around the church hall itself. One of my favorite details is that for a church the size of the Gol stave church, the vaulted ceiling inside was effectively an upside-down longship – master shipbuilders that they were, it’s no surprise the Vikings borrowed that technique for their churches. The churches had to be tarred every three years to keep up with the weatherproofing, which was quite an undertaking. Everyone helped out with the task.

The Gol stave church was moved from its original location in Hallingdal to Oslo around 1885. King Oscar II had a private open-air museum on Bygdøy at that point (oh, royalty); King Oscar’s Collection merged with the Folkemuseum in 1907. To this day, Oscar’s section of the open-air museum is known as Kong Oscar IIs Samling, or King Oscar the Second’s Collection. The gold leaf you can see halfway up the church front commemorates the relocation and restoration of the church. Unsurprisingly, there are only a handful of stave churches left in Norway, but if you’re curious about them, you can read more here. I am very fortunate to have been in more than one – I visited the Borgund stave church in 2012, and to give you an idea of the intricate carving around the entrance (symbolic, of course, as the gate through which one steps into God’s house) as well as a peek of the interior, here’s a photo from Borgund (the entrance and interior of Gol was very similar):

And the top of the portal of the Gol church:

Keeping up with the theme of beautifully carved wood, this was a door on a storehouse in the Setesdal section of the museum:

I found it especially noteworthy because the carvings on either side of the main door greatly resemble stockinette! It was also in the Setesdal section of the museum that I got a close-up photo of the edge of a sod roof:

While I think many of us find sod roofs incredibly charming, as it so happens, the grass on the roof is really just a by-product of this method of roof-building. The cheapest way to build a weather-proof roof in a wet, windy, and snowy land was to use readily available materials. Birch is abundant in Scandinavia as well as strong and resistant to water and soil, and so people would strip the bark from the trees and lay on top of the wooden roof boards in layers (around 8 layers or so, on average). To hold the birch “shingles” in place and keep them from falling off or blowing away, they’re weighted down. Sod was an obvious choice for this job, as it was (obviously) readily available and an insulator to boot. So next came a layer of sod, topside down (the bottom layer of grass helped with drainage and insulation), and then another layer, topside up. Once you put soil on your rooftop, the grass just grows! I love how you can see the ends of the birch bark pieces curling over at the edge of the roof.

In addition to the countryside areas, there’s a little Gamlebyen (old town) as well, to give museum-goers an idea of what life in a Norwegian city would be like at different points in history.

I was running out of time by the time I got to Gamlebyen, but I did have a chance to pop into the weaver’s shop and pick up some yarn. I chose a beautiful hank of Telespinn yarn, in a 2-ply variety called Symre (named after a flower that commonly grows in Telemark, where the yarn is sourced and spun). I couldn’t pass it up: as you can see, it’s gorgeous yarn, but I was also immediately drawn in by the company’s goals and values. Based in Telemark, they’re interested in learning about and preserving both the history and cultural landscape of their area, as well as the relationship between livestock farming and natural landscape (as regards their mohair goats, in particular). Symre is a mohair-lambswool blend, and it feels both hardy and luxurious at the same time. I wanted to buy all of it. You can learn more about Telespinn, their goats, and their mini-mill on their website here (link goes to the English version).

One of the other great things about the open-air museum is that many of the buildings have guides working inside, typically in costume and often partaking in a daily task typical of the building and time period they’re representing. I saw some tablet weaving of decorative belts, a folk dance demonstration, and I spent a few minutes in a very hot kitchen building chatting with some ladies making lefse in the most traditional way: on an iron tray over an open hearth (hence the heat). Then I got to eat some (it was delicious).

I’ve been quite wordy, so I’ll leave you with just a few more photos. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, though, and I’d love to hear if any of you have been to the Folkemuseum! Or if you’ve been to similar museums in other places, I’d love to hear about that too and I’d welcome your recommendations! I’m flying back to the states tomorrow, so I won’t be posting about the second half of the museum until later this week. I’m looking forward to getting home and regular posting should resume shortly thereafter.

school, snow, and a vasa update (sort of)

When I last posted two and a half weeks ago I had every intention of returning to more regular blog updates. While that obviously didn’t happen, I have been keeping busy. Not much of it directly pertains to Paper Tiger as a business, but I thought I might share some of it here all the same (Paper Tiger was a personal blog and a place to share my thoughts and creative work before it was ever a business, after all).

Firstly, this is as close as I’ve gotten to a photo of my fully finished Vasa from the Vasalong:

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I’m holding out for a proper modeled photo (taken by someone else, preferably not on an iPod/iPhone) before I share all of the details, including my mods, etc. but the short version of the story is that I love it in the linen (yarn is Quince & Co. Sparrow, in the colors Juniper and Little Fern), I love the sleeve border I added, and this one has quite a bit of positive ease, far more than I recommended in the pattern (which was at least 4″ – I haven’t actually measured this thing yet, but I know it’s more than that). I promise I’ll wrap all that up soon! (The ravelry project page can be found here.)

As for why it’s taken me so long to get around to photographing and writing about my Vasa, as well as other projects I have going on, the reasons are many. The biggest reason, however, is that the summer school does actually keep me fairly busy, and when I’m not in class or hanging around the library working, I’m resting, cooking, exploring Oslo, or traveling. The International Summer School at UiO is something I have wanted to do for a very long time – nigh on a decade – and now that I’m actually here doing it I want to enjoy it and get as much out of the experience as I can. That makes PT work lower priority and it’s naturally fallen a little bit by the wayside. This has also been a time of reflection for me. I’m in the middle of something of a long transitional period, and coming to the summer school has been a deliberate part of that. It’s a transition away from creative work as my full-time daily work (though I will never give it up entirely) and back towards the world of education. It’s something I plan to write about more on this blog, because I have a lot of feelings about it all and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I’ll save that for another day.

In the meantime, to give you an idea of what I have been doing…

Most days look a lot like this:

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But some days look like this:

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14419725198_37634dab52_zOn top of Aurlandsfjellet in Sogn og Fjordane fylke. That’s the lopapeysa I bought on my trip to Iceland in March I’m wearing.

Or this:

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetVoss, in western Norway, in the rain & fog

I’ve been on one ISS-organized excursion (around the Oslofjord) and one road trip unrelated to the summer school to visit friends in Voss, which was this past weekend. The drive to western Norway is one I’ve done before, and it’s staggeringly beautiful. It was nice to stay in Voss as well, and we took a brief trip to the Folkemuseum there (I only have a few photos from it, but I think that still warrants its own blog post). I won’t be going on any trips this coming weekend, as I’ve only been in Oslo one weekend out of three since I arrived, and I’d like to do some weekend exploring (hitting up farmer’s markets, second-hand markets, and parks and the like that I wouldn’t normally get to on a weekday).

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the concept of home, my nomadic tendencies, and why I’m drawn to Norway in the first place. The visual ties to the Pacific Northwest are pretty obvious in many parts of the country. I found myself thinking about drives out to Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington, as we drove through Hallingdal on the way back to Oslo on Sunday. I never realized Hallingdal looked so much like the Snoqualmie Valley.

14419752999_98d17cd655_zDriving through Hallingdal on road 7

In any case, I’m having an amazing time in Norway. We have a long weekend (no class Thursday or Friday) this weekend, so I’m planning to hit up some of the museums I haven’t had a chance to get to yet and hopefully catch up on some work as well. As always, you’ll find more photos on my instagram account (I’m @cakeandvikings) and you can follow me there if you’d like to keep up with what I’m up to on a more regular basis!

hello from norway

Soon I’ll be sharing photos of a few of my favorite finished Vasas as promised, but I’ve been packing, traveling, and fighting off jetlag, so it’ll still be a few days, I’m afraid! I arrived in Oslo on Tuesday and I’m here for the summer, taking an intensive Norwegian language course at the International Summer School at the University of Oslo. I’m also hoping to set aside some time for a little bit of Norwegian textiles research, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll be visiting Annemor Sundbø’s studio in Setesdal at some point. I’m excited to explore resources that are harder to find or unavailable in the States, and this includes visiting lots of museums.

For now, I’m just settling in and trying to keep a steady sleep schedule as I start to explore my new neighborhood in Oslo. It’s an area where I haven’t stayed before, and I love the process of exploring a new neighborhood, finding the most awesome things tucked away on side streets. Norway in the summer is pretty hard to beat.

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Barbara borrowed my hat when it started snowing on us.

Friday was spent at the National Museum and ended with a fashion show, a precursor to Saturday’s events. I didn’t take any photos at the museum (though Cirilia did take a handful of them), but if you’re interested in Iceland’s history even a little bit, I feel like the National Museum is a must-see in Reykjavik. I spent two hours there but I could have lingered longer. I definitely spent some time nerding out over medieval manuscripts, and as a drop spindle spinner, I really enjoyed seeing the Viking-era stone spindle whorls and woven (or nalbinded) fabric remnants. There was also a really great photography exhibit on the the ground floor while we were there, and all the work being featured was shot by female photographers. The works spanned over a century of photography.

The fashion show we went to was over at the art museum by the harbor, Hafnarhúsið. It was a very different vibe than the shows the next day. I think that the fashion world tends to take itself a little too seriously and the folks in attendance at the Hildur Yeoman show seemed to fall into that category. Still, it was an interesting experience and I’m glad we attended. The show was for Hildur’s new collection, called Yulia. I believe it’s named after (and partially inspired by) her great aunt. Or grandmother? Either way, it was a badass lady in her family, and I’m all for being inspired by that.

The clothes weren’t for me, but I managed to grab a photo or two anyway. Black, white, and red were the thematic colors for the collection. The girls you see at the back were doing a choreographed dance piece, which also kicked off the show.

reykjavík so far

Hello from Reykjavík, where we’re halfway through DesignMarch 2014 and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival!

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I’ve been posting on Instagram since arriving, as have Cirilia and Stephen, and I put a bunch of our photos into the montage above. If you want to follow along, you can follow us at @cakeandvikings@cirilia, and @westknits.

First of all, Iceland is beautiful. I may be here for the design and fashion events (and to galavant around with buddies) but it wouldn’t be that hard to skive off and stare at the landscape or out over the rooftops all day instead. Truly.


I arrived early in the morning on Tuesday. I had the Flybus drop me off at Reykjavík Downtown Hostel, near my friend Peter’s place, which worked out well for me because I could have a coffee (I didn’t sleep on the overnight flight) and some breakfast while I waited for Peter. We got to spend the day together, but I also got to get some work done and take a nap (very necessary).

Stephen and his friend Barbara (of Chillimint) arrived from Amsterdam later that day, and Cirilia arrived the next morning. Our days thus far have consisted of a lot of coffee, snacks, and knitting. And outfit changes. Reykjavík is known for its street style but I’m not sure this city’s residents can hold a candle to these guys.

Cirilia, Stephen, and Barbara headed down the hill to Harpa for Thursday’s opening day Design Talks. I love how Harajuku Cirilia’s pimped-lopapeysa look feels.

post-coffee on Wednesday

I feel positively tame standing next to them, swathed in black, white, and grey (right down to the lopapeysa I bought at the Handknitting Association today, seen in the Instagram montage above). But I feel like me, so it works.

Opening day’s talks on Thursday were really excellent (you can read about the programming on the DesignMarch website here). “Design” is such a diverse, broad term, and the wide range of speakers really drove that point home. The morning started off with two speakers who work in urban planning & design situations, and one of them, Kathryn Firth, might have been my favorite speaker of the day. She’s working on the ongoing redesign of Olympic Park in London in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, and I have to admit I hadn’t given much thought before to what happens to all the giant Olympics complexes after the games.

After lunch the talks switched gears: we had some tech talk first (with Robert Wong from Google) and then moved on to fashion, with Mikael Schiller from Acne Studios and finally Calvin Klein. The Google talk was good, and about what you’d expect: Robert was charming in a humble, not-smooth-talking kind of way, with funny quips and emotional hooks and appropriately placed “instructional videos” that are totally ads, no matter what Google claims. I got caught up in the moment during his talk, and found my feelings toward Google (which are mostly good, but I do have some grievances) shifting in a more positive direction. After his talk, however, I came down from this magic Cloud (I guess Glass isn’t a great thing to stand on) and realized I’d just been expertly emotionally manipulated. High five, Google. You’re winning whatever game you’re playing and it still makes me uncomfortable.

I really enjoyed Mikael from Acne’s talk. He was funny and genuine and seems generally bemused that people like what his company is doing (though of course he works very hard to make it so that people do). I probably won’t buy their jeans or other clothes, but Acne’s really on the up right now.

Calvin Klein… well, he’s undeniably a legend. Instead of giving a presentation like the other speakers did, his talk was in the form of an interview, and his interviewer was Icelandic designer Steinunn (a former employee of his). It was clear that CK and Steinunn have somewhat of a special relationship and the utmost respect for each other, which is lovely, but it made for a pretty vanilla interview, I must admit. I’m very glad to have heard Calvin Klein speak at all, and he gave some great advice for aspiring designers, but it would’ve been a much richer and more interesting interview if his interlocutor had been willing to bring up critique or controversy, or anything other than glowing praise. Perhaps if you’re Calvin Klein, you have the authority (or maybe the ego) to pretend critical analysis doesn’t apply to you and choose your interviewers accordingly. He was so casual when he mentioned hanging out in the Hamptons and deciding to send his personal plane to Boston to fly Marky Mark down to talk about underwear… and it was at that moment that I realized how far Calvin Klein’s reality was from mine, or most of the other people in this world. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear his story and I’m grateful I had the opportunity.

The weather the morning of Design Talks was gorgeous, and we took advantage of the gorgeous light outside Harpa (reflected off the geometric, multi-colored windows) and snapped a few goofy photos:

I have more to write about what we’ve done so far (especially the National Museum!), but I think I’ll save that for the next post. Until then!

travels &c.

Well, I’m all packed…

…and ready to go to Iceland! I’m headed to Reykjavík next week for Design March and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival, where I’ll be hanging out with Cirilia RoseStephen West, and my dear friend Peter (Peter and I are old friends from high school, and we used to get together to bake brownies and cake and watch Björk videos, so we’re pretty excited to hang out in Iceland). I always love a trip to Iceland, but it’s my first time going to Design March, so I’m looking forward to it even more than usual. I’m hoping to share some updates while I’m there (I’ve brought my laptop along for the ride).

On that note, after Iceland I’ll be visiting family for a week, so I won’t be back at Paper Tiger HQ until the second week of April. I’ve taken down listings for physical items from the shop (digital items are obviously still available), and any wholesale orders won’t go out until I get back.

a few updates

I’m back in Seattle after a few weeks of travel over the holidays, and it feels quite good to be back in the office and working again. I had a lot of fun on my travels, though. Here are a few things I’ve been up to:

I spent the new year in Oslo, which was really lovely despite the lack of snow. In addition to seeing some dear friends, my partner and I did a little bit of coffee tourism, because there’s a pretty unique thing happening in the Oslo coffee scene right now. I have to say I’m a fan (you can read about it here – thanks to my friend Kamni for the link). The coffee in the photo above is Finca Tamana at the Tim Wendelboe spot in Grünerløkka (extracted via the Aeropress, which was totally different than an espresso preparation – Aeropress is the way to go, for this one).

I went to London, where it was mostly rainy (but there was some beautiful sunshine as well). I had a chance to meet up with Meghan and Lydia from Pom Pom Quarterly which was a treat, and I hope I’ll get to see them both again sometime. I’m already looking forward to the spring issue coming out. And I really loved London. I want to go back already, because there’s so much to see! I feel like I barely scratched the surface.

I also had a stop in North Carolina, where I was able to give my mom this skein of handspun I’d made her for Christmas. It’s my third skein, a 2-ply, and much finer than the first two. It’s more even, as well, and mostly a fingering weight (with some thicker spots). I’m still enjoying spinning, though I feel quite slow at it, but I love the portability of a drop spindle.

A few other updates:

  • I’ve created an errata page for pattern corrections, which can be found here. I’m working on integrating it better into the site so that it’s easy to find, but the “knits” page needs an overhaul anyway, so I’ll probably combine those two projects.
  • I’m at work on a couple different patterns at the moment, so I’ll have new designs to share in the coming weeks, which is always exciting!
  • I have paper copies of several of my patterns now (Vasa and the F/W 13 collection) and I’m putting the finishing touches on my wholesale set-up (I’ll be distributing myself for the time being), so if you work in a yarn store and your store would be interested in carrying paper copies of Paper Tiger patterns to sell, I’d love to hear from you. My email can be found on the about page.
More soon, as always.a