About living a creative life in a small commuity approximately 300 kilometres above the Arctic Circle

Thursday, July 27, 2006

About mittens and yarns

I've gotten a lot of questions about the mittens, what do I do with them, what kind of yarn etc, so I better write something about them. In today's picture you see the traditional pattern my mittens started out as. In Norway, this tradition is dated back to the 1860's (approx) and the woman that sort of "invented" this type of knitting in Norway, or at least is credited for it, is Marit Ernstad, who came from Selbu, a small community in Troendelag, right in the middle of Norway. That's why this kind of knitting is often referred to as Selbu-knitware. The pattern often used is an eight-pointed star. Even my mittens has a kind of that, the small one in the center of every motif and also the rounded one outside the smaller one. Originally the colour choices were few. Black or "sheepish black" as it was called and white or unbleached. During last century it became normal to knit with blue and red for girls/boys instead of black. There is a vast variety of patterns, a lot of variations of the 8 pointed star but also motifs taken from the nature. The second photo (taken by my husband) shows a version I knit for my husband a couple of years ago. They are the most complicated mittens I've ever knitted.

Originally a homespun two-ply yarn was used. I'm sticking to the two ply's, but my yarn is a soft baby wool quality from Dale. It's Merino wool. doesn't itch and can be washed in the machine. The needles I use are 2,5 mm (don't know the American equivalent). My husbands mittens are knitted on 2mm needles. That's very thin!!

So why did I go from black and white to colours? One summer after knitting 5 pairs in black and white, I was so bored with the colours. Earlier that summer I had taken a class with Kaffe Fassett and got a new view on colour. So one day I passed a shop window with colourful sweaters and jackets, and Eureka! I ran into the shop and bought colourful yarn. I knew for certain that the babywool yarn was used for some of the jackets I saw, and decided to give it a try. I'm been satisfied ever since.

What do I do with them? I started selling them locally at the arts and crafts society's Chirstmas Sale. Then a friend of mine wanted to sell them in her flower shop. And a gallery owner here where I live also have them for sale. Now I have an order for ten pairs which I'm working on. I'm wondering about making a webshop where I can sell both mittens and patterns I've designed, but at the moment I think it's going to be just wonderings.

And if you are curious, the headband is a design I developed on basis of the mittens.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wanted: Summer!

I've been a lousy blogger lately. It started so well when we were holidaying, but after we returned home last week, I haven't felt like I wanted to share anything. Maybe it has do to with the lousy weather we've had. We went from living on the veranda with 27 degrees celsius to putting on our ovens to heat the house. It was 9 degrees! Makes me want to move further south, but I guess I actually know that bad summer from time to time is the price we have to pay for living in the middle of the fantastic scenery we're surrounded by.

Today I was going ot start working again for a short period, but yesterday the period got even shorter. We got today off, and we don't have to travel to Kirkenes (near the Russian border) next week. Because of terrible planning form the local arrangement committee, our two concerts there next week were cancelled. Then the need for rehearsals dimished. We're only doing a concert on Saturday and also two concerts next Saturday. I've spent my free time painting on the house and testing a car we want to buy (I haven't been driving, just checking if it's okay to sit in the car next to the driver and knit :-D). Buying cars in Norway is incredibly expensive and I'll devote another post to it later.

While driving, I knit mittens. I spend at least three hours in the car every week and that is too much time to let go to waist. I'm planning to take a fancy shot of the mittens out in free air, but I need to secure the thread ends first. Guess how many times I've sworn to do this after every mitten I finish, but when the time comes, I usually forget. So until that fancy shot is taken, here is a small taste of the colours I use. Right now I'm making a pair in two yellow nuances and charcoal black. The colours remind me of honey and licorice, and they are definately not the cup of tea for people seeking traditional Norwegian knitting.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Summer projects

I've gotten a lot of questions about the picture in my last post. And Maya did recognize it! For those who haven't followed my blog, here is what I'm working on. This is a quilt I've designed and it's called Liberty Flowers. I'm making a miniature version now. The blocks in the large quilt are 8 inches, and those I'm working on right now are just 4. The large quilt is 65 x 65 inches, and the small version is 23 x 23. I pieced the flowers before I left on vacation, and I have been appliquéing them onto a cotton/linen fabric.

In today's picture you can see a part of my second summer project. A couple of years ago I started to crochet a twin size bed spread to use in my studio when I have to use it as a guest room also. It will consist of seven rows and two borders. At the moment I've completed 4 rows and both borders, so it's progressing.

I also have brought with me a quilting project. It's a table topper for advent. It's quite simple, made as a teaching example of how to use half square triangles. I haven't worked on it yet, it's too hot! But I WILL start working on it before we go back home on Wednesday (At least I hope so :-D).

Another "project" I'm working on is my photographing skills. My husband and I both enjoy photography, and we try do make more out of it than just holiday snaps. So far he's the one that has taken the most fun shots, but I'm eager to learn more about it.

And finally, I never go anywhere without my mittens. I've got nearly 20 different versions now, and when I return back home, I'll take a picture so you can enjoy.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lazy days

We are enjoying some lazy days in the southern parts of Norway. Last Wednesday we travelled down to my inlaws for two weeks of relaxation. And the first thing that met us was summer weather! Since our two lovely days in may we haven't had the feeling of summer at all, only a couple of days with something that looked like warm spring. I was totally blown out due to allergies and it took a couple of days to get adjusted to the temperature, but now I enjoy living on the veranda and wearing summer clothes.

We have travelled a bit around. First to say good bye to a friend couple that's going to the States for three years. He is going to do a PhD in theology and she is freelancing as a singer. We spent a lovely day in Aasgaardsstrand, a small village that's mostly known for it's former inhabitant, the internationally famous painter Edvard Munch. And then we spent a couple of days with my husbands niece and her family. In the pictue we are disturbed by the photographer while I'm fixing something in Martine's knitting. She and her sister are so fun. Every time we visit and I bring my knitting, they both run to find their knitting also.

Today we're going to Blaafarveverket. I'll write more about that later. Have a nice day, folks!


Sunday, July 02, 2006


This project is a real oldie. I started it long before we moved to Kvaefjord, so I guess it's from 1999 or 2000. I made the four blocks and the scrappy 2 x 5 borders, and then I put it away. Originally this pattern, made by Ute Barbara Schoensberg (a Norwegian based designer with links to Germany) was a square wallhanging, but I decided to make it into a long and narrow one. While working on it now, we received an invitation to a party to celebrate the birthdays to a friend of mine and her husband, who also happens to be a colleague of my husband and me. They were going to celebrate their 50th anniversaries together with their families, neighbours and a few close friends. I decided to finish this as our present to them because I know that she understands the work I put into a piece like this.

The party was yesterday, and that's why I can show the picture today. They really appreciated it. We had a splendid time! I met friends I haven't seen for nearly ten years and I also was introduced to people my friend had talked about but whom I've never met. It's so nice to finally have a face to combine with the name you've heard several times.

We're visiting my inlaws later this week. I'm so looking forward to going away for a while. But I will bring my computer, camera and UFO's, so I guess you'll be informed of any progress being made.