Only in Swedish today – but for your information, dear English speaking and reading friends: a friend and I went to a world wide knitting day event (only there were no knitters…) to crochet and spin for two days.
Knappmakerskan / Garnmorskan Maria och jag åkte söderut till Kristinestad för att virka och spinna i två dagar. Det var Öppna Portar i staden, man kunde gå in på folks gårdar och titta på deras vackra trädgårdar nu när grönskan är som skirast och vackrast, och försommarens blommor slagit ut. Det var också vänortsbesök från Danmark, och under de två dagarna träffade Maria och jag många turister från andra orter i Finland.
Här sitter Maria i ett tält och monterar en filt av mormorsrutor. Nån timme senare flyttade vi inomhus, för trots att solen visade sig ibland var det kallt. Försäljarna i sina bodar var ordentligt påpälsade, men på söndagen blev det ändå väldigt kallt för dem. I husen runtom innergården fanns en keramiker och en dockhusutställning, och en Vänstuga där man fick mat och kaffe.
Maria och jag fick sitta i en underbar lokal: Kristinestads hemslöjdsförenings vävstuga. Arrangörerna hade ställt ut 150 par sockor som ska delas ut till behövande:
Jag hade med mig några sländor. En av dem var min älskade Precious, den lilla minibossien i pink ivory från Journeywheel. Här har den fått fint underlag, en ljuvligt vacker handvävd löpare i poppana.
Jag tog också med resespinnrocken Louet Victoria, som mina kompisar döpte till Peerie (“liten” på shetländska) när hon var alldeles nyfödd, nyinköpt ska det väl heta. Jag fyllde två rullar under de två dagarna.
Arrangörerna hann också fästa trådar för Marias filtar:
Och här är en blivande filt som de flesta av oss blev väldigt glada i. Maria virkar ihop de hundratals rutorna till filtar med olika färgteman. Rutorna virkas av restgarner, och det är många som donerar rutor. De har följaktligen olika storlek, men Maria har hittat ett sätt att foga samman dem så att det inte stör i den färdiga filten. Den här filten har färger som gamla glasfönster tycker jag:
Det fanns en spolrock i vävstugan. Den används för att fylla vävspolar med garn.
Kristinestad är en kuststad i Sydösterbotten med lång historia inom sjöfarten. Numera är det mest småbåtar som löper in i viken som ligger mitt i staden. Kristinestad är känd för sina små nätta trähus med inbyggda gårdar med fina trädgårdar, och alla de smala gränderna som löper mellan husen. Här är en utsikt från östra sidan av viken in mot stadens centrum, med Ulrika Eleonora kyrktorn i bakgrunden. Finlands svenska historia är ständigt närvarande i byggnader, ortnamn och sevärdheter. Staden är uppkallad efter drottning Kristina.
Det kvackades utanför mitt hotellfönster på kvällen, och när jag tittade ut såg jag en familj gäss. Vitkindad gås, tror jag. Annars är det mest kanadagäss som bor i våra parker. Det fanns gäss på flera stränder längs viken, vilket säkert inte är så värst trevligt om man tänkt sig att promenera på stränderna. Inte för att fåglarna verkade aggressiva, men för all spillningen de lämnar överallt. Vackra är de i alla fall! De gav sig av nån annanstans till natten, så det blev helt totalt tyst och jag sov djupt hela natten.
Vi hade ett fint veckoslut. Det var fin publik, trevliga arrangörer, underbar lokal, och vi fick dessutom mycket gjort både Maria och jag.
I have been to my first Vävmässa! I have wanted to go for a long time, but thought I really don’t need to as I’m a spinner, not a weaver. This year the fair was in Umeå just across the Gulf of Bothnia, so I decided to go. And I’m happy I did. It’s three years until the next Vävmässa, so there’s time to plan for the next weaving feast!
First of all I met three spinners from Sweden: Britt-Marie, Kia, and Elaine. The next day Britt-Marie, Elaine and I spun at the World Wide Spin in Public event that took place by the entrance of the fair ground. If you are in the Umeå area next week, this is the place to go: Fiberfestivalen. It’s next to Umeå with easy access on train or bus.
I saw so many beautiful weaving, high class yarns, and looms. There were exhibitions of old an new weaving mainly from northern Sweden, a workshop area, and of course vendors. This was the first thing I saw when I entered the vendor area, and I thought Oh my god, how will I see anything among all those tall Swedes? I’m quite short, you know. But I soon found that the grounds were big enough with lots of space, so it didn’t feel too crowded once you were there.
Some woven examples:
There was so much to see and marvel at for a non-weaver. I bought thin organic cotton yarn for my band weaving, and the awesome shuttle for band weaving from Stoorstålka, and a book.
On Saturday I spindled the whole day except for lunch and purchasing the yarns. It was a fun WWSIP, and I met several spinners from Sweden I didn’t know from earlier. Some only dropped in to say hello, like several members of the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.
Here are Gunnar, Britt-Marie, Monica, and Elaine, and my things in the basket on the floor:
Take a look at the lady’s skirt: soon I’ll show more of that design!
I also saw a very rare person: a “hårkulla”, Nina Sparr who makes accessory from human hair. This craft used to be an income for women in earlier days. Now there aren’t many left, so I was lucky to see one.
I had two wonderful days abroad. Umeå is a nice town with lots of birches, as the rest of that region. That’s why the weaving classes had a beautiful display of tapestries with birch motives hanging in the entrance:
The Samis were represented with bands and some very fine tapestries, and Stoorstålka helped people with band weaving problems. So let’s finish with two bands and a tapestry showing the Sami landscape with reindeer:
Today we went to my old hometown Vasa (Vaasa in Finnish) for an autumn fair. We wanted to buy vegetables and see what else the energetic people from the museum guild at Brages Friluftsmuseum where up to. I have a faint memory of buying something at the fair many years ago while I still lived in Vasa, and I know I’ve visited the museum a long time ago. Today I found a museum worth a visit any time in the summer when it’s open. Most of the small museums in Finland are closed all other times except for summer because of the difficulty of heating the buildings, and also because most of them are maintained by local enthusiasts who don’t get paid for all the work they do.
There were far more buildings than I remembered, and the wedding room in the biggest house was more splendid than I remembered.
We came early, luckily, as there kept coming more and more people all the time and it must’ve gotten crowded later.
Part of the decorations in the ceiling of the wedding room:
I’ll return to this in another post, because there was lots to see in that room.
My friend Doris from Topparsbacken and her mother were there with Doris’ painted items. I owe several of her beautiful painted baskets.
There was much good handicraft, mostly knitted, but also woven. Finns usually don’t want photos to be taken, as they are afraid of copy cats (for good reasons), so I didn’t take many close ups of the booths. My constantly knitting friend Harriet was there, and she didn’t reject the thought of being uploaded!
I want you to see how well mushroom information is spread in Finland. A guild from Vasa, Vasa Svampvänner, has been doing this for decades, going to fairs with fresh mushrooms and answering questions and helping people with identification of mushrooms. All over Finland different organisations are sharing their knowledge with the help of educated experts. It was in one of the guilds in Vasa I first learned the basics about mushrooms. The first rule is: NEVER eat a mushroom you can’t by certainty identify!
The main building of the museum is quite impressive. In our cold climate it’s not wise to build so big that heating becomes both laborious and expensive, so old farm houses like this always indicate a wealthy farm. The red paint you can see in so many places in Ostrobothnia originally came from Sweden, where farm houses traditionally were painted with a red earth colour that has been produced in Sweden for several hundred years.
We came home with potatoes that usually are grown in the most northern parts of Finland and Sweden, Almond potato, and chard and carrots. And a book with patterns in knitting, crochet, sewing, and more:
So what did I buy yesterday? OK, I took photos today, but I’m not satisfied so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Hope it won’t be an anticlimax… I believe only a spinner can be exited…
There seem to be a never ending row of middle ages events in Europe, and also in my small country. My husband and I went to one in Kokkola, 100 kilometres north from us. It was a great event with riders from Rohan Tallit, a play ground for the children with a king dubbing knights and a mini-tournament, fine craft for sale, barbecue, and talks on herbs in medieval tradition.
I’ll tell you what a treasure I found in another post. I need to take a photo first. It was a very nice and satisfying day, and I can now stop searching for a tool I’ve been looking for for years!
Here’s one who was happy when we came home:
I took a class in intermediate two-end knitting for Karin Kahnlund, one of the skilled Swedish knitters and teachers in this intricate technique. You may know it as “twined knitting”, a term that is also frequently used. It’s called “tvåändsstickning” in Swedish. The technique hasn’t been widely known outside the areas in Sweden where it has been practised for hundreds of years. It’s still an unknown way of knitting for most knitters. I first learned how to do it at the beginning of the 21th century, when I was able to attend a class with Marianne Wasberg. She’s the one sitting in the wheel chair here in our class at the Symposium:
I somehow managed not to take a photo of our pleasant and skilled teacher. I did take photos of her mittens, but as she doesn’t want them to be published I can’t show them. Karin has made very beautiful knitted mittens and sleeves, as you can see from the few photos on her site.
I may show Karin’s swatch that we started knitting in the class:
My swatch is still to be finished. I frogged the first one and started all over. After several hours of knitting I’ve come this far:
I wanted to show the wrong side, because it’s different from how you usually knit stranded knitting and fair isle. Every stitch is bound or twisted, and you throw the yarns. The continental way of knitting doesn’t work in two-end knitting. I’m pleased with the swatch as it looks now compared to the one I first started knitting. You have to knit firm, otherwise the patterns won’t look nice. In this exercise you learn how many threads you need to use in each pattern, and how they are bound and twisted.
In two-end knitting you use Z-twist yarns, so now I have a new challenge in my spinning. For some reason I find it much more difficult to spin S than Z. I think it has to do with very small changes in how you use your muscles in your drafting hand. So, the way to cope with that is to spin more S-twist singles to train your muscles! We use Z-twisted yarns because S-twisted tend to loose rather much twist in this technique. This is of course, as so often when it comes to textiles, a matter of “it depends”. Your personal way of knitting, how you keep your yarns in your hands, how you pick the stitches or throw your yarns, whether you’re right handed or left handed, all this affect the yarns and how your knitting looks. So, test different ways and decide for yourself how you want to do it.
I also got engaged as a teacher at the Symposium, and found myself having promised to teach tapestry crochet at a knitting symposium. To my surprise my class was quite popular, so I ended up with more students than I had promised to take. It was a bit crowded in one of the classes, but we managed even if my legs still are covered with bruises from the table and chairs I had to round each time I wanted to show someone what to do 🙂 I chose the traditional Ostrobothnian way to crochet this technique. My students learned the basics and some of them were able to finish the round, flat bottom of a purse. At least one of them had finished the sides of her purse the following morning! This is a photo I took while working with the hand outs for my class:
We also could to listen to some very interesting talks during the five days, and we visited several museums and saw some of the beautiful textiles from my region. I met new people, and some that I’ve met earlier in Scotland, Shetland, Finland, Sweden. It was a wonderful five days!
I took two one-day classes at the Nordic Knitting Symposium 2014: the first one on how to knit cuffs for Estonian mittens. I have knitted Estonian mittens and socks in the “Nancy Bush-way”, and they are lovely. Nancy’s patterns are adapted from Estonian tradition, and with great care to not do violence to the Estonian tradition, but to suite knitters not used to the extremely fine knitting in most of the original textiles, and leaving the most difficult techniques out.
Knitting in the traditional Estonian way is something else. It’s not unusual to have up to 200 stitches per round in a pair of men’s mittens. Needle sizes go from 0.8 mm to 1.25. The yarn is thin and rather stiff, and the knitting is extremely dense. Most of the items made for weddings have never been used, or used only for a few hours during the feast. They were made to show the bride’s skills.
In the class we learned to knit three different cuffs found in mittens from Muhu island off the west coast of Estonia. Our teacher Kristi Joeste has done lots of research on Estonian mittens, and she also teaches at Tartu University in Viljandi. She has a blog in Estonian with lovely photos. She showed mittens that made us ooooh, and later, when we tried the stretchy cast-on on needles 1.5 mm you could here deep sighs from all these skilled knitters sitting around the table. In the afternoon we had to admit that we felt like beginners again! This is my cuff with fringes on needles 1.5 mm:
I didn’t knit much more than that on any of the three cuffs. It’s slow! There are intricate techniques! But all of it was rewarding, and I believe all of us learned how to do the stretchy cast-on that is common in Estonian mittens.
Kristi Joeste has reconstructed more than 200 pairs of Estonian mittens. Here are some mittens she showed us:
The fringes we learned to knit. These are knitted by Kristi Joeste:
I used needles 2 mm in the first cuff, 1.5 in the second, and 1.25 in the third. I think that was wise, because starting with 1.25 would probably have made me quite unhappy. One of my spinning friends from Sweden took the same class, and we both got very excited. Now we want to find the right kind of wool and spin the thin yarns for a pair or two of these beautiful mittens.
If you like Estonian knitting, keep an eye on Kristi Joestes blog and Facebook site. In the autumn three new books will be published in English, the first one about Estonian knitting techniques, the other two about knitted textiles. I’m very excited about this, and will buy them all. Especially the first one will fill a gap, as there’s very little written about how to knit the mittens and socks. Lot’s of photos have been published, but often with no explanation on how to knit what’s shown in them.
A few views from the delicious table this very silent and concentrated gang of knitters sat around:
Kristi also gave a talk during the symposium. She told us about the vast and interesting textile program they teach at the university in Viljandi, and showed photos of new interpretations of old Estonian textiles. It’s obvious you have to be talented and serious about what you do if you want to study at that university. And I have one more note on my list of places to go to.
I’m attending the Nordic Knitting Symposium this week. Five days of knitting and museums – I’ll return to that when it’s over and I have time to breathe. For now a photo of a work in progress by the Knit Master of my guild, Marianne Wasberg. It’s a miniature two-endknitted piece intended to be a brooch one day. Needles 0.5 mm. My first attempt at Estonian mittens with needles 2 mm in the background (I’m now down to 1.25 mm in my third attempt). Quite a difference in those two knittings, isn’t it? Marianne’s needles are so fine that I don’t think I could use them. I wouldn’t be able to see what I’m doing. She’s an amazing knitter. I’ll show more of her work later.