wool&gathering

Knitting, design, wool and other gatherings….


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An impossible project….

Many years ago I ordered some yarn from Telespinn. I´ve mentioned this yarn producer before. They were until recently the only private-owned wool-spinning mill in Norway, and their own Mohair goats provide most of the wool for their great range of yarn.

IMG_3208I was looking to develop this project from 2010, including a new top-down  shoulder-saddle / contiguous -method, without the turtle-neck. I called the new project: “SkiingJumper II”, but had to rename it: “SkiingJumper II meets an obstacle…”. But in my head I always refer to this sweater as: “The Madonna-sweater”. The reason for this is that I´ve “stolen” the stranded pattern from a cut-out magazine page from 1986, showing the artist Madonna in a Norwegian-inspired sweater – what we would call a “kofte”.

The magazine tempted it´s readers with a chance to win a copy of this sweater, and as you can see I´ve meticulously cut out, and sent in my ticket to heaven! This magazine (which I don´t remember the name of…) even provided the knitting-pattern for this sweater, so you could knit your own – should you not18-2_medium2 win – which I didn´t! So I had to knit it myself – the sweater is long gone, but wearing it did not make me look anything like Madonna …maybe because I had not mastered the art of biting my lip / gazing sensually… still haven´t by the way. The pattern was provided by Garnstudio and knitted in the yarn Karisma (no pun intended), both still alive and kicking today, -but the pattern isn´t. I´ve checked Ravelry´s pattern pages, searching through Garnstudio´s patterns (they are all free…). But the pattern for “Madonnas genser” was not to be found. The closest I found was this: “40-18 Sweater with ethnic borders” – a name which really just shows a lack of history – knitting wise… This is a knitting pattern with long roots in Norwegian history. It´s origin is probably Eastern European / Russian – but it´s been used and developed in Norway for at least the past 100 years…

On the back of the pattern-page I found the reason why I did not win my copy of the sweater – here you see the Horoscope for February / March 1986, and reading through my star sign, it says nothing about being lucky… Quite the opposite in fact, but “interrests and family-life will be smooth” – so I guess I sat there knitting my “Madonna-sweater” in front of the TV – together with my father – (we only had one (1) TV-channel in Norway in those days, and you watched what the Norwegian Broadcasting Company would serve you) – probably watching some obscure Finnish “TV-theatre”, including a lot of saunas and “birch-branch-whipping”. And if when the “birch-branch-whipping” would become too intense (as it sometimes would – involving a bunch of naked Finnish men) …I can vividly remember refining the art of “loosing-stitches-and-being-very-busy-picking-them-up-whilst-keeping-a-secret-eye-on-the-TV” – in hope of my father not catching it…

But back to my impossible project…

I started knitting using my old Telespinn “Mari” yarn – knowing I would have to order more. And also knowing the color would probably be a bit different. But I thought the difference in color would not be too noticeable keeping it separated by a block of stranded pattern.

As you can see from the middle picture, it did! So I did not even try to continue my knitting-project. Instead I tried to over-dye the new yarn. As you can see from the last picture, I did not succeed. By far! Instead I think I´ve ruined the yarn by adding too much yellow… Mohair takes color better than most other wool. I´ll give it another go, by trying to remove some color and add more blue / black to it. But as I told Telespinn in an e-mail conversation: “I won´t even try to pretend to know anything about the art of yarn-dyeing…” But it´s still worth trying …and I might even learn some more about yarn-dyeing, though this knitting-project probably won’t be finished with this yarn. I hate to have to rip what I´ve already knitted. In my mind, the sweater is almost done when the upper-body is done in the top-down technique (maybe you have the same experience?), and all that remains is finishing…

Note: I sent Telespinn an e-mail to let them know about the difference in color. Knowing the years between my orders it was not formulated as a complaint, but just to let them know. I got a nice answer – to let me know they are aware of the difference, and why the dyeing-process does not allow them to continue the “old” color.

I have to admit I like the “old” gray better…


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Toppsamling II…

Toppsamling II

Toppsamling II

Vertices Unite translated into Norwegian becomes something like Toppsamling. I´ve just finished my second one, and I think I´m going to leave it with that, though I find myself dreaming of even more great Vertices Unite shawls in hundreds of different color-variations… Enough shawls for a while…

I dug into my “precious-stash” for this one, -you know, the stash you often think of using and then decide against it for no obvious reason other than that it is a bit precious… And so the years passes…

I finally got to spend some of my Mari from Telespinn, got to throw in some left-over alpaca/silk (in Bitter Bug and Moody) from Old Maiden Aunt and even squeezed in a bit of Shilasdair Luxury 4 ply in Tansy Gold / yellow. I love yellow, but it´s a difficult color to be used with care… this shawl was perfect for it.

Mari from Telespinn ( see my last post) is a wonderful rustic mohair/merino grown and spun in Telemark/Norway. It´s listed in Ravelry as a light fingering yarn, but in my opinion it´s more like a fingering/sport weight… I have to add that my Mari has been in my stash for years, and the yarn may have been changed since I purchased it…

The Vertices Unite pattern comes in two sizes: Small and Large. I´ve adapted the pattern to a Medium. See my Toppsamling II ravelry project page for the details. My shawl measures 190 x 60 cm, and weighs 248 grams.

My fog & whisper cardigan is almost finished, and I aim to finish it by this weekend, and then I can go back to my last purling project; the raglan baseball sweater…


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Secret of Change V…

Secret of Change V

Secret of Change V

We´re sort of soul-mates, the Secret of Change shawl (by Veera Välimäki) and I. But when I decided to use the 2 skeins of WalkCollection BFL sock for a shawl, the search for a new pattern was on. I ended up with a few choices; Fresia, Dendrology and Charm. But as you see, I ended up with the Secret of Change, again… The Secret of Change V. I usually either knit from the top of my head, or jump at the opportunity at a new and exciting design. I very rarely knit the same pattern over again if it´s not my own pattern that I need to improve on.

So why have I ended up knitting the Secret of Change shawl 5 times? I could admit to poor imagination or laziness, but it´s really the great design. The shawl has a classic ease to it and the eylet details are a beautifully incorporated part of the construction and the overall “look”. It has a perfect size for a shawl (mostly used as a scarf) and the garter stitches makes it an easy knit. I simply just love the look of this shawl, and it´s also interesting to see the different versions in the different fibers.

Secret of Change collection

Secret of Change collection

Secret of Change collection

Secret of Change collection

My first version dyed&changed, was knit in a gray self dyed corriedale superwash sock yarn. The yarn is quite “hard” on the skin, and was only my favorite shawl until I knit the next one. The Another Secret. A dream in light pearl gray alpaca. My third: Secret III, was knit in Black Trillium Fiber Studio Pebble Silk Sock, in a pink/purple washed out color with some yellow and gray speckles. It´s beautiful but the color is quite special and you need the right occasion and the right outfit for it. My 4th version, the Secret of Change IV is a lot more versatile in that respect, being knit in a heavenly charcoal lambswool/cashmere lace yarn, held double. So I think knitting a 5th Secret of Change was a only a rational choice, since everybody needs a shawl in a great blue/green color, and my collection of shawls has got the perfect addition, just to wrap it up, so to speak…

Vertices Unite

Vertices Unite

And speaking of re-knitting a pattern, I just had to… a second Vertices Unite by Westknits. A long-time project this time, I think… I´m using “Mari“, a 80% KidMohair 20% Lambswool, fingering weight from Telespinn, a Norwegian grown and spun yarn. I´ve had this yarn in my stash for ages, and The VU shawl is perfect for this yarn. I´ll also mix in some left-over Alpaca/Silk from Old Maiden Aunt and Shilasdair Luxury fingering. I don´t have enough yarn for the Large size, so I´ll just adjust the size to the amount of yarn.


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Some days, like today, I would like the right to just spell it out…

PrintI´ve just read the Rowan e-newsletter of Febuary 2014. It shows a few nice knitting designs, but mostly crochet designs which I care less about… this is after all a knitting blog! But what caught my interest was an article on page 7, about a new campaign; «Love Your Yarn Shop». I think that´s a great initiative, and I hereby pass the idea on to my LYS (local yarn shop)!

My LYS: «Sy med oss» offers a good range of Norwegian yarn + Kauni (Estonian). What I love about my LYS apart from their excellent knitting-cafè once a week, is being able to drop by, have a nice chat, search through the shelves filled with wool in all colours and qualities, being inspired by a new yarn or a showpiece, get a new knitting tool and get valuable advice from a person(s) that really know what they are talking about! And above of all; -they always greet you with a smile, and treat every «dumb» question with a positive attitude; «yes, I´ll see what I can do», -and «I´ll do some research and get back to you!». Contrary to; «No, we´re out!», or; «No, we can´t do that!», if they notice you at all…

I´ve been frequenting yarn shops since the age of 11, and seen a lot of horrendous behavior from yarn shop staff! Some even look you straight in the eyes while giving you crap advice they surely must know are, well …crap! Maybe I don´t look the part? Maybe I don´t look like a «knitter»? – whatever a knitter looks like…? Or maybe I don´t look rich enough to buy their precious yarn, which they guard like it is a costly treasure not yet ripe to leave the shelves!

At the age of 23 I had just finished my «Foolish Virgins» by Kaffe Fassett! I went to my LYS at that time, to get yarn for another intarsia-project I intended for a knitting contest. The woman behind the counter would not order an additional shade of my yarn of choice because «there are not enough room in the shelves for more yarn, and you probably won´t ever pick up your ordered yarn anyway! We can´t just order any yarn for any customer you know! And by the way, intarsia is best knitted in the round (?!), – if you knit this flat you´ll never finish it…!» I just looked at this middle-aged woman thinking: I am – at the age of 23 – a far more experienced knitter than you´ll ever be! …and left the shop. I had to wait a few months before I could buy my yarn in another shop (this was before the internet…), I finished my intarsia-project and came second in that knitting-contest!

Well, I am myself ehm, middle-aged (?!) now, and I probably finally «look the part», at least I get better treatment in the various yarn-shops…

I do not want to be «the angry customer»! I just don´t see the point in that! I want to support my local yarn shops! I want to buy local yarn from actual persons!

Which leads me to the main point of this post: Above all; I do not want to be «the angry knitter»! And I find myself becoming more and more angry… which is a contradiction given my age. Aren´t you supposed to get less angry with age?

I live in a country with on average the best educated women in the world. We have the highest income per capita in the whole universe, while the cost of yarn is on average compared to rest of the western world. Still, a lot of my fellow Norwegian women insists on their «right» to knit using mainly cheap, imported acrylic-based yarn! I´m member of a facebook-group called «Koftegruppa», and they recently had to close down a discussion-thread because the «acrylics-lovers» felt harassed!! Well, I followed that thread, and did not see any form of harassment among the comments, but if you feel the right to shout out to other knitters: «I use whatever yarn I like, -it´s all about the joy of knitting, and I don´t care about the yarn-industry or where the yarn comes from or how sustainable or local it is, just as long as it´s cheap!» -you should be prepared for opposition! Just as I´m ready for any opposition to this post! I know I´m stepping on toes here….

But ladies, -step it up will you?!!

There´s a saying in Norway: «Women are women worst!», meaning, I guess, we´re experts in keeping each other down, not supporting each other. In relation to knitting I say this because I´m seriously concerned about the local wool industry. There are only three Norwegian commercial yarn mills left! And most of the wool they use are foreign. Nothing wrong with foreign wool, but the status of Norwegian wool are very low. Sheep are kept only for the meat because the wool-price are low, and about 70% of our wool are destructed! And most of the remaing 30% are used as insulation. What a waste! And we´re also in the process of «loosing» the original types of sheep that we know to produce good quality wool, and we´re loosing valuable knowledge about these types of sheep! We can cheer on the enthusiasts for some more years, but eventually they´ll collectively realize that the «market» don´t appreciate their work… Now, I know that a few knitters can´t change the whole wool-industry, but we can make a small change by demanding better products! By buying locally you can help ensuring local employment and knowledge. By buying yarn from local mills you can help ensuring we still have 3 commercial mills left in Norway in 10 years time (or more…) and by buying locally you also support the local designers. Norwegian knitting designers carry a long and proud line of iconic designs, and I think they do a great job developing this design-heritage! If the mills close down, designers are left without their major support, and there will be fewer of them.

So next time you want to knit a garment, buy smart; buy locally, buy sustainable and don´t borrow the knitting-pattern from your neighbour, -buy it yourself to support the designer!

It´s possible to «save yourself poor», and I think that is exactly what we are doing at the moment!

yarn_store_dayoutlined_459_458I know my readers are mostly not Norwegian, so why do I address my concerns here on this blog? Well, first I think this applies world wide. There is a reason for launching campaigns like the brilliant British «Campaign for Wool». And someone clearly feels the need for campaigns like the before mentioned «Love Your Yarn Shop». As a dedicated knitter and wool lover I say: «Look to Britain!», -because they have managed to turn the whole wool industry into something overall sustainable and fashionable. So I know it´s possible!

Secondly; if you come to Norway as a tourist, and let´s say you want to travel through the beautiful, and now also on the World Heritage list; The famous Norwegian Fjords; all you´ll see are trees! I´m exaggerating here, but in a few years this will be the reality! If we continue to buy heaps of cheap acrylic yarn, the amount of sheep to keep the «forestation» on a sustainable level will be too low! All you´ll see are tunnells and trees! I know because I live here and see the changes from year to year!

8th of March is only a week away and for the first time in my life I´ll join the march! There are only two issues I´ll join the protest-march for; If my right to vote are threatened, or if my right to have an abortion are threatened! In my opinion these are the two main democratic rights for women! Our new right-wing coalition-government are, as far as I can see it, threatening my right to have an abortion by allowing medical physicians to chose if they want to refer patients wanting an abortion to the hospital, or not. In other words, -they want to allow doctors to refuse to give the help the patient needs! This might not be the biggest problem in the world, -you can go to another doctor, or go straight to the hospital and get the help you need, -but it´s the principal! If the right-wing female politicians act as «…women worst», and send a signal to all the other politicians, and to all the people of Norway, – that really, really scared women in a really, really difficult situation should feel even more scared and bewildered because they have the power to do so! What for?

I´ve never had to have an abortion, and being ehm, middle-aged (?!) I probably will never need one, but I´ll march for my daughter and all the other women that might need one! I´ll march for my basic democratic rights and I´ll march for women to stop being «…women worst!». Use whatever yarn you like, and vote whatever you like, but know the implications! And come on!, please don´t scream: «harassment!» if someone questions your right to imported acrylic yarn…. If you join me in the parade next Saturday we can shout «Harassment!!» together, and it will be worth it!!

The three Norwegian commercial wool mills:

Some Norwegian private wool mills: