Knitting, design, wool and other gatherings….

Zipped Icelandic and “The Evolution of Knitting”…


I knitted this a few years ago. I have my Grandmothers (Gerda…) yarn in my stash, and among it I found some skeins of «Fritidsgarn» from Sandnes Garn. I don´t know when it´s from, but I´m guessing the early 70´s. This yarn is still in production, and I think I´ve listed the right colors, though they claim the main color to be “new”! I think it´s an oldie they´ve started producing again…
I´ve done some mods to the pattern: added some length to the body, added a zip after steeking, made a collar and lined it with a sport weight alpaca – I´m guessing “Du Store Alpakka” – dark brown. Fritidsgarn might be quite itchy, and the alpaca makes the cardigan / jacket more wearable!
As you may notice; I´m not particularly happy with how I´ve solved the steeking part! The stranded part of the pattern doesn´t match and it´s all too visible!! I love the jacket and I wear it a lot, but it irritates me every time I look in the mirror…

  • imagesPattern: Istèx Alafoss Lopi no. 12 – design 10, by Guðrún Jónsdóttir
  • Yarn: Sandnes Fritidsgarn, col: 4071 brown mix (main col) + 2541 Natural mix + 3161 mid brown
  • Needles: 5 + 6 mm / US 8 + 10

I found this pattern in this booklet: Istèx Alafoss Lopi no. 12

I got this from a friend who visited Iceland, and she brought back the booklet and a lot(!) of Plötulopi in various pinks. I like pink but I´m not your average «pink» girl, and though I really, really tried… I just could not knit a single pattern from the booklet, not for myself, nor my daughter, using this yarn.

You know the feeling when a gift starts to smell… You feel like the ungrateful friend not appreciating the fact that a friend actually made an effort…

I guess this is where me as a knitter meets the «world»!! To me knitting is a very personal thing. I don´t know if anyone will understand this. I think I´ve tried to address this issue before, maybe not using the same words, but I think I´m finally able to write it in «concrete»:

  1. I knit because I love it! I don´t knit because I don´t know where to keep my hands, or because I have too much time on my hands that I need to fill! – if that was the case I would go and do something else…
  2. I knit to pleasure an inner itch to create something, – and to solve a personal design puzzle…
  3. I love wool!
  4. I can never have too much yarn! (se #3)
  5. To me knitting is an adventure! I get an adrenalin-kick out of an exciting design idea, figuring out how to knit a difficult bit or just by finishing a piece. The kick I get is almost the equivalent to sky-diving …and I´ve tried it!
  6. While knitting on one project, my mind is far into the next project… always! (see #5)
  7. My mind is always working on multiple levels at the same time, and the design process of knitting keeps all the levels on the same «page», while the knitting process leaves at least one level blank and I will have to «fill» it with radio or TV or a film, to keep me going. But if I find myself in a situation where I have to knit a ready-made design for somebody else, meaning there´s no room for interpretation, large parts of my brain goes blank and I have to struggle to finish my knitting, with the consequence that I end up not enjoying my own work. All it becomes is just work! And since knitting is a personal thing that´s not a situation I want to be in! (see #1)
  8. I will never start a knitting project if I don´t feel the design goes with the yarn, which goes with the texture, which goes with the needles, which goes with the overall idea of the finished project, etc… if you get my picture…? (see #2) It´s like reading a book, – if I´m not sufficiently intrigued after page 50 I´ll start reading another book! If my favorite music artist has released some new music that does not «talk to me», I won´t download it!
  9. If you gift me a skein of yarn… or more, you´ll get the pleasure of seeing my face break in to a big smile!! …no matter what yarn (apart from acrylics of course!) I´ll be near to ecstatic!! Because I love wool! (see #3 and 4) But I can´t promise you that I´ll use the yarn any time soon… (see #7 and 8), or that I´ll use it for a project you intended it for (see #5). To me there´s a distinction between knitting and yarn… yarn is yarn, knitting is knitting! I´m not knitting to use up my yarn. It´s closely related, but both knitting and wool has a story of their own…
  10. To me, knitting has become political as well as personal; – there´s been a «knitting-revolution» going on lately, at least according to the media! «Knitting is fashionable!», «Knitting is the new Yoga!»… I agree with it all, but I don´t think this comes from a revolution. Quite contrary, it is an actual evolution! without the potent revolutionary part! In my mind it´s the media who have «slept in class», and not noticed the «Evolution of knitting!». I know for a fact that my before mentioned Grandmother Gerda spent her young-adult years providing for her family by knitting, sewing and weaving everything that was expected of her (and more…) according to the 50´s expectations of a housewife, while trying to squeeze in some mormor kofteprojects for herself, – just for the fun of «creating». In the late 70´s she´d got three Grandchildren, and knit a «kofte» (cardigan) for each of them, at least that was the idea… but when she had finished one for my cousin and one for my brother she caved in and ordered mine… She had by then knitted heaps of garments for all of us over the years, but I can clearly remember my mothers comment to this «incident»: «Oh, so she could not finish…»! And though my mother knitted for me, she ordered most of my knitted garments – so her comment did not hit home! I loved my ordered «kofte» (it had reindeer on it), and I can really relate to my Grandmothers action. Don´t waste your love of creating, – your love of knitting, on expectations! And that´s the whole “evolution of knitting”! We don´t have to knit – we knit because we´d like to! If you need a wool sweater it´s actually cheaper to buy it than to knit it. You get both better quality wool and a better sweater if you knit it yourself- but you have a choice! This has changed gradually since the 50´s, so I see no revolution!

On average I spend 60 hours knitting a sweater or a cardigan on needles 3 – 4 mm / US 2 1/2 – 4 (and I´m not a slow knitter). If I were to charge minimum wages, it would cost a customer (in Norwegian kroner, and according to Norwegian minimum wages) an approx. nkr: 170,- an hour. (US $ 28,4 / Euro 20,65), and if normal tax is deducted from this equation, the math would then look like this: 170 nkr x 60 h = 10.200 nkr. – 36% tax=  nkr: 6.528,- / US 1091 / Euro 793.

Now, would you pay nkr. 6.500,- / US $ 1090 / Euro 793 for a hand knitted sweater / cardigan, not included the cost of the yarn / buttons / zipper etc.? Think not! And If I was actually employed to do this kind of work, the cost would be even higher, adding social security, pension and employers taxes… «Home-knitting» for customers are a private marked, done by women with seemingly nothing to do with their hands (I´m being cruel here…), but the fact that they are willing to «do the job» at 1/8 of the cost I would have charged for the same amount of work tells me one thing: run as fast as your legs can carry you to find these women and order everything you can order, because they will soon be extinct.

I´m glad I don´t knit to eat – I only knit to enjoy myself. I´m proud of my knitting, and I would proudly teach you the art of knitting (though my knitting-time is precious), but I would not knit you a garment for less than minimum wages. You might not even wink at the price-tag of a hand-knitted «Missioni» or «Chanel», but as long as it´s «home-made» we all expect the cost to be low, as if the knitting expertise is lower… as if!?… And if you have read this post you´ll know I find this to be a «…women worst» kind of attitude!

Hardanger embroidery

Hardanger embroidery

15 yrs ago I visited a church on the west-coast of Norway. I knew my grand, grand, grand something – father had some connection to the previous church here, and I had an interest in seeing some of the items that I knew belonged to the «old» church. Most of the churches in Norway are not open to the public besides «opening-hours», and I was happy to find an open church door, in addition to being greeted by two lovely ladies handing me a leaflet. «It tells the history behind every «art-piece» in the church», they said. «Who made it, and when.» Ha!, my lucky day!! I went in, and the first thing I saw was the magnificent altar cloth, made in the finest «Hardanger embroidery» you can imagine. I´m lousy at embroidery, but I know enough to know my own limits… and I flipped through the leaflet to see who had made this wonderful piece of art, and when it was made. I hurried back to the lovely ladies by the door, explaining that I missed a page in my leaflet, because the tablecloth was not mentioned. They looked a bit bewildered, and had to admit that the tablecloth was not included in the leaflet… In fact, all the «art-pieces» worth mentioning were made by men!

Sometimes I feel like my, at the time, 8-year-old cousin, who during an overseas flight had all the time in the world to watch the stewardesses. She finally turned to her mother and said: «Mum, how long do you have to be a stewardess before you can become a pilot?»…

Happy 8th of March tomorrow!

Author: woolandgathering

I´m a dedicated knitter. I share my house with an unknown amount of wool. My kind of wool seems to multiply like quicksilver, -drop a skein to the floor and you get 10 in return….. (well… get is maybe an exaggeration….) So I keep on knitting to try to get on top of it, enjoying the process, the texture of the yarn and the endless possibilities in creating new garments.

2 thoughts on “Zipped Icelandic and “The Evolution of Knitting”…

  1. I just found myself punching the air in agreement – with everything! Happy Women’s Day, and knit on!

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