20 May, 2007

Cotton for summer

Tired of black and white yet? No way, not me! Though I am feeling compelled to set aside the wool every now and then, and play around with this cotton camisole from Poetry in Stitches.

Hifa cotton in ice blue from Nordic Fiber Arts.

It was a treat to choose a color out of the 60 or so on the color card. I seriously considered at least four or five different blues, but in the end I went with this one, the palest of the pale. The yarn was special ordered, so it took a while for it to get here, but it is beautiful. Smooth, sleek, mercerized cotton, quite unlike their rather rustic (but lovely) Hifa 2 wool, which I am using for the Brocade Leaves sweater.

The camisole is knitted sideways in garter stitch and "double pearl" stitch (I may have to find what the English name for this is), and is copied from an actual antique under garment! Isn't it cute with the short row shaping at the waist?

Twin dogwood trees in our yard. Finally it's spring! Though of course it's still raining.

Variations on a sweater

I hope everybody who is knitting fair isle is reading Nanette's blog, Knitting In Color. Her blog is like a class in color knitting, with lots of details and pictures. She wrote the booklet, "Stranded Color Knitting", which is a must for anybody who is new to fair isle knitting. It's like having a friend to show you what to do, how to hold the yarn, how deal with tension problems, the best ways to weave in the ends, and much more. Her latest series of posts has been a master class in knitting gloves. She is so very generous.

The sharp eyed among you may have noticed that two of the sweaters in the recent "inspiration" post were the same. One is a copy of an antique*, knitted in very fine yarn and cut up the front to be a cardigan. It is edged with woven bands. The other one is an updated version in Susanne Pagoldh's Nordic Knitting, knitted in heavier wool and with ribbing at the neck and on the sleeves. If you want to make the cardigan, just follow the pattern in Nordic Knitting, but use thinner wool. Eliminate the sleeve and neck ribbing, and cut up the front. Edge with woven braid.

The Pagoldh book is the only place I have seen a pattern for this sweater, known as "spøta-trøje" from Stord, an island on the west coast of Norway outside Bergen. Though I have seen several other antique examples. Here is another as pictured in Traditional Knitting by Sheila McGregor.

Note the initials and the year 1860 knitted in. I love the way the different star patterns are combined. As usual, click on any of the photos to see them larger.

*1975 copy of an antique sweater from 1846 pictured in "Trollstål og Kjerringspinn" ("Sorcerer's Steel and Women's Webs - Norwegian craft traditions: knife-making, knitting and weaving").
Published by De Norske Bokklubbene in association with the Lillehammer Olympics 1994. This beautiful book reminds us that these three crafts were crucial to survival, knitting and weaving to keep warm, and knife making to keep fed in a country with very little farm land. Lillefix, you would like this book ;)

11 May, 2007

Some Selbu mittens for your pleasure

From left:
1. Korntrø-rosa, named for Korntrø Farm,
2. Hjart-rosa (Heart rose),
3. Skaltroll-rosa, also named Pine Cone Pattern (I believe)

4. Værhorns-rosa (Rams Horn rose),
5. Endløs-rosa (Endless rose), also called Grankvist (spruce branch),
6. Kinn'tyrill-rosa (though I have also seen this named Rams Horn rose)

Wouldn't they all make beautiful sweaters? Any of these patterns could be either done as bands or all-over. They would fit my criteria perfectly. I am considering designing my own.

In my quest for black and white patterns, I looked through some of my Norwegian text books. I found the above graphic in this book, The Mitten in Norwegian Tradition, which is written by Ingebjørg Gravjord and was published in 1986. Unfortunately I don't believe it is available in English, but I just read that it is being republished, so there is a chance that could spur a translation as well. I hope so.

It is a very comprehensive academic book, written by an expert in cultural history. She is a historian, as well as instructor in textiles at the Academy of Applied Art and Design(?) (Statens håndverks- og kunstindustri skole). It covers mittens in all forms, whether woven, nålbinding, twined knitting, or ordinary knitting, and the regional traditions and history associated with them.

Click on the picture to get a close up of the the gorgeous embroidered mitten from Telemark on the cover, with the year 1730 stitched on it. This mitten was done in nålbinding.
There are no patterns in this book, though it does contain some instructions on unusual techniques. This book, along with another by the same author called Knitting in Norway, are my main sources of historical knitting information. This is how I find out all about the olden days!

I also have a blog to share with you. Kathy has started a new inspiring blog where she is compiling all kinds of resources on Fair Isle and Norwegian knitting in one place, such as links to lots of tutorials and other informative sites. Check it out, she's an excellent writer, and it's a great resource!

10 May, 2007

Black and White Inspiration

I discovered a curious thing this winter. When the weather is gray and gloomy, and everything kind of blurs together, black and white is soothing to look at. I think my eyes got tired from trying to focus with all the gray and found it very comforting to gaze upon a certain black and white item. It was very surprising.

Therefore, to prepare myself for next winter, I want to knit a new sweater to wear all of January. (And, as it turns out, April. But I am not bitter.)

I have made a list of vague criteria:

1. Black and White
The colors must be deep dyed black and bleached unnatural white. Not natural white and natural black sheep colors. It has to have maximum contrast.

2. Balanced
The balance between the two has to be close to fifty-fifty. Or sixty-forty white-black. My jacket from long ago called for 600 g white and 400 g black.

3. The "Right" Scale
The patterns have to have the "right" size. For example lice patterns are too small, they are visual noise. Solid blocks which are ten cm (four in) across are too big. On the old jacket I really like the large rose pattern which is called "rams horn rose".

4. Norwegian Style
I want to do it in a Norwegian style pattern. Though this could work in an Op Art style pattern as well. (I found these socks by Laura Andersson. How cool are they!)

I have scanned through all my books and booklets looking for inspiration. Here is a little selection. Click for close-up.

Oleana. I could probably handle the red border.

Ellinor Flor from "Rosa Heimafrå". I love her. This coffee table sized book is one of my favorites!

Sandnes Garn Maybe if I reversed the colors on the sleeves and shoulders.

Traditional sweater from Nordic Knitting by Susanne Pagoldh

Viking ship action from Sandnes Garn

So hard to choose! The Oleana of course is not available to knit, only as ready-to-wear. But I better get started on this asap. At my speed, seven-eight months is probably reasonable.