Knitting, design, wool and other gatherings….



I had a sweet tooth yesterday…. not for chocolate, but for a knitting book. I went to my favourite book store, and found two books that I might be interested in buying. And that´s just it…. isn´t it? I mean; -might be interested in….?

One was this:

9788282053006A whole book about the «Marius» sweater, -one of (in my opinion) the three most popular Norwegian knitting patterns. It´s a beautiful book, -filled with both traditional patterns and new and quite inventive ways of using the «Marius» pattern, all presented to suit several levels of knitting skills. I´m guessing this book has contributed to the formidable amounts of «Marius» sweaters currently walking around. I love the fact that knitting is back in fashion in Norway, and I don´t mean just knitted items, because they have, in one form or another always been fashionable. But the fact that knitting, -as in actually buying the yarn, casting on and moving the needles to create a garment, has become «the thing to do».

Old knitters …well ehm, as in «Old»…. like me, are walking around a bit more proud of our skills, and knitters more new to the technique are confidently joining the parade.

But I didn´t buy the book. I would highly recommend it, but I have the pattern archived in my head. I´ve knitted it several times before, and I also have the written pattern in various editions, -the first one from the 60´s….

The other book I held in my hands was this:9788202387501

Sanna Vatanen is Finnish, and the book is translated (to my knowledge) to Swedish and Norwegian. The cover draws my attention, and the content reflects the cover. Love that about a crafts book! It´s filled with great ideas on how to knit and crochet using your scrap yarn, all well presented in a colorful and inventive way. …and when the front page model is wearing yellow John Fluevog shoes…. need I say more:)

But I didn´t buy this book either. I know who to borrow this book from.

So I left the crafts shelves, suddenly thinking about the book I only remember the title of whenever I´m in this particular book store. But they still didn´t have it….. Internet is the murderer of small town commerce. I´m aware that my local store, of whatever trade, can´t carry every little item I ´m currently in the pursue of, and going home to press the buy button on your computer is very easy. So I found a book for my daughter feeling very pleased for being politically correct, -buying locally. And then I saw it! Not a knitting book timthumb.phpas such, but very knitting related. A book about knitting UFO´s. I could vaguely remember reading about this art project some years ago. I brought it home and spent a few hours giggling. Apart from really enjoying the pictures and the stories, I felt something that can´t be translated into English. And the only reason for this is that the word and the concept of the word simply doesn´t excist in English. The Germans has it: «schadenfreude», as has the Scandinavian languages. In Norwegian: «skadefryd». It basically means the joy you feel over other people’s misery! Not the proudest word, -I know!  The excellent Australian stand-up comedian Adam Hills makes a really enjoyable point of this in one of his shows (either «Characterful» or «Joymonger», -can´t remember which). I brought the book to my knitting-cafè this evening, and the restrained giggles as the book passed around the table made me realize I wasn´t alone in feeling «skadefryd» when seeing other people’s knitting-miseries splashed out for everybody to see. We all have them, on the bottom of the knitting-basket, in the far back of the shelves in the house´ most untidy room or as I once did; -framed the lonely glove, signed it, named it «One of a Kind» and gave it to my father for xmas. It still hangs there on the wall, forever lonely 20 years later…. Remember the sweater only missing 1/3 of an arm, -or the pair of mittens with two right thumbs? Some unfinished projects ends up irritating you so much that you couldn´t even be bothered removing the knitting needles! But that´s the exception, -mostly the needles are left in because you still have a plan……


Selbu Mittens

I´ve decided my old Selbu Mittens from this post, to be ones for the archive. They were in desperate need of mending, but in addition the inevitable felting process had gone too far, and the pair had simply become too small.

This is of course quite sad, considering the amount of time I spent knitting them, but also quite awarding considering the amount of time I spent wearing them! When a pair of 100% Norwegian wool Selbu mittens are worn out after 10 yrs, it simply states their popularity.

So I had to knit myself a new pair, and was given the opportunity to try out a new pattern. The search was on, and let´s just admit it; «Selbu» is a world known consept, and the amount of patterns for traditional Selbu Mittens are overwhelming (google selbu mittens, -or in Norwegian: selbuvotter, and you´ll see). Thick or thin, colorful or natural, synthetic or wool, «based on» or true to the original. But what is the original? I´m not judging here, merely stating my personal view upon the matter; «Selbu Mittens» has to be made of 100% wool, and the pattern has to be based on one or several of the patterns traditionally used in Selbu. Originally Selbu Mittens were knittet in thin homespun wool, a lot thinner than you´d find in the yarn store today, and consecuently knitted on very thin needles. My fingers are sore after knitting on needles 2,5 mm (US 1,5). I once inherited knitting needles which didn´t fit in my pin gauge measure -thing, they were thinner than 2mm (US 0), probably 1,5 mm. I tried them, and it´s like knitting with sewing needles! Traditionally ladies mittens had ribbing like in my mittens, while mens mittens had cuffs.

These mittens are knitted in very thin wool, and are mens mittens. Suggested needles 2mm (US 0). I`d like to knit these at one point, and I think I´ve found the perfect yarn for it: Design Club´s DUO. A Danish brand lambswool, 540 meters to 100 grams.

The first Selbu Mittens are believed to be knitted in about 1850 by an 11-yr old girl called Marit Emstad, the «mother of Selbu-knitting». She´s supposedly the first to use two contrast colored threads and creating a stranded pattern. The technique spread rapidly, and in the beginning of the 19th century mittens and socks were knitted for sale by the locals due to an increasing demand from the growing «outdoors» fitness trend in and around the capitol (Oslo). In my opinion the three best known original Norwegian knitting patterns is: Selbu, Setesdal and Fana.

What´s interresting is that all three pattern techniques developed in the mid 18th century. 1850 seems to be a clue here. Why did Norwegians radically change their knitting from one-colored frocks and socks to two-color (stranded) knitted items within one generation? Where did the inspiration come from, and why did it become so popular? I´ll do some more research and write another post about this later.

In my search of a new pattern for selbu mittens I came across the Northman mittens. I´m up for new ideas and the idea of a lined Selbu mitt was more than I could resist.


The pattern is great! The idea is great! But I´ll never use them…I think. Why? -they´re just too thick! It´s the sort of mittens you use when you sit still, …or walk slowly. When I´m outside in the winter I hardly ever sit still, and I never walk slowly. But most importantly I need layering. Let´s imagine a day of cross country skiing.IMG_3587

Layer A: Icebreaker Glove Liner, Layer B: Selbu Mittens, Layer C: Norrøna Windbreaker Mittens

You may start by crossing a frozen lake, it´s a bit windy but not too freezing. Your body is not yet warm, and a lot of the body´s heat loss is through the hands. I need layer A + B. Having crossed the lake you start walking uphill, aiming the mountain top in the distance and two layers of mittens are too warm. Layer A are off. After the first break your hands are cold, and layers A+B are on again. When you finally reach the windy mountain top, layers A+B+C are needed. Repeat instructions backwards when descending.

Well, I ended up knitting myself a new pair of the same Selbu mittens as before. Not in 100% Norwegian wool this time, but in 100% merino. Not the same, not even near the same. So what´s the difference? Merino probably won´t felt as much, but they won´t be as warm. I guess we´ll see in 10 yrs time how useful they have been.