Category: Knitting

Lahja neulojalle

Perinteisetlapaset_paino

For my English speaking friends: yet another awesome book about Finnish knitting and tapestry crochet traditions, this time about mittens. – För mina svenskspråkiga läsare: ännu en underbar bok om finska stick- och flerfärgsvirkningstraditioner, nu om vantar.

Kyllä meitä hemmotellaan hienoilla kotimaisilla neulekirjoilla – nyt lapaskirjalla! Anna-Karoliina Tetri, joka on monelle tuttu yrityksensä Tetridesignin ansiosta, on taas julkaissut hienon kirjan. “Perinteiset lapaset” on kiehtova matka suomalaisten lapasten maailmaan. Kirjaan mahtuu lapasia koko Suomesta: ohjeita, historiaa, perinteitä, ja tietoa neuleisiin liittyvistä nimityksistä. Kirjassa on myös monivärivirkattuja lapasia ja ohjeita. Minua ilahduttaa myös lankojen valinta. Anna-Karoliina on käyttänyt Pirtin Kehräämön Suomen lampaiden villasta kehrättyjä lankoja.

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Sukupolvien silmukat

 

 

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För mina svenska läsare: boken är på finska med ett kort engelskt sammandrag, så jag talar om vad jag tycker bara på finska (=gillar!) 

For my English readers: the book is in Finnish with a short summary in English, so I’m telling how I like it only in Finnish (=like!)

Upea kirja karjalaisesta neule- ja piilosilmukkaperinteestä sukissa ja käsineissä!

Jo kirjan nostaminen nettikaupan pakkauksesta sai minut haukkomaan henkeäni. Voi kuinka kaunis kirja! Ajattelin että näin upea, painava (=laadukas paperi) ja suurikokoinen kirja kielii huolellisesta työstä.

Ja niin tosiaan on. Koska olen kiinnostunut tekstiilihistoriasta, olin hyvin iloinen huomatessani kuinka paljon mallien taustatietoja kirjassa on. Kauniit, selkeät valokuvat, helposti luettavaa tekstiä, hienot värit… Valokuvaaja on Marko Mäkinen ja kustantaja Maahenki, joka sekin takka laadun.

Kirjan mallit pohjautuvat museolöytöihin. Kaikista on tehty uusi versio tämän päivän langoista. Jokaisen mallin kohdalla mainitaan museo ja esineen arkistonumero, joskus on myös valokuva museoesineestä.

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Minua kiinnostaa erityisesti kirjan kiinteillä ketjusilmukoilla virkatut mallit. Yritin joitakin vuosia sitten löytää enemmän tietoa tämän tekniikan käytöstä Suomessa ja erityisesti Pohjanmaalla artikkelia varten, mutta en löytänyt oikeastaan mitään muuta kuin maininnan käsineistä Hjördis Dahlin väitöskirjassa “Högsäng och klädbod”.  Marketta Luutonen välitti minulle pari valokuvaa Kansallismuseosta, mutta siihen se sitten jäi. Ruotsista olin aikaisemmin löytänyt muutaman kirjan, koska siellä tekniikka on säilynyt pitempään kuin Suomessa. “Sukupolvien silmukat” sisältää sekä malleja että kuvia lapasista, käsineistä ja sukista. Kirjassa keskustellaan myös tekniikan nimestä, joka ei ole ihan yksiselitteinen millään tuntemallani kielellä. Törmäsin siihen hakiessani tietoja sekä kirjoista että netistä suomeksi, englanniksi, tanskaksi, ruotsiksi ja norjaksi (ehkä myös saksaksi, en enää muista).

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Kirjan tekijät ovat Pia Ketola, Eija Bukowski, Leena Kokko, Anne Bäcklund ja Sari Suuronen. Kiitän heitä suurenmoisesta työstä!

Korinpohjasukat Jääskestä. Muutama viikko sitten näytin korinpohjasukkia Vöyriltä tässä blogissa. Jokohan pitäisi tarttua puikkoihin? No, se oli pelkästään retorinen kysymys, johon vastaan “kyllä”. Aion myös tarttua koukkuun.

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Hats in Myrbergsgården

In an earlier post I wrote about socks you can see in one of the museums in my municipality. Today I want to show you hats from that same amazing museum, Myrbergsgården = Ant’s Hill House, if you wonder 🙂

Some of these are skilfully crocheted children’s hats. Sometimes they were made for women, who wore them as an extra layer under the head cloths for more warmth. Indoors they took off the head cloth, but sometimes kept the hat. The houses, and especially the small cottages, where not always very warm in winter in those days, i.e. the end of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th. As you can see, they were crocheted in the round. The pattern designs are the same you can find in crocheted clothes and purses here on the Ostrobothnian coast.

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Tapestry crocheted hats
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Tapestry crocheted hats

Close up: I still haven’t had time to see how they solved the problem with going from crocheting in rounds to making a flat piece. You can do it in two ways. Either you continue working in rounds and make a steek afterwards, or you cut the threads after each row. I really can’t tell from my photos which method they used.

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Tapestry crocheted hat with Twisted S design

The Twisted S design is often used in the Korsnäs sweater, but you can also find it in suspenders and purses. It’s one of my favorits, I often use it in purses.

I have tried to copy this hat, made and used by an elderly woman as her indoor hat, but it’s very hard to find out exactly how the increases are made. I think this design must be made exactly like this. It’s charming with it’s slightly irregular “propellers”. If you make it regular it looses much of its charm.

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These plain knitted caps were also used under the head cloth. Some of them are machine knitted. Knitting machines where common before WWII in my municipality. This is a simple but highly usable sock heel construction:

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Machine knitted cap

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Twisted stitches

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Hope you enjoyed! To me head gear are constant objects of amazement. It seems we put just anything on our heads! I think  the hats I just showed you are lovely. When I get even older than I am now, I’ll crochet a hat like that for me to wear on cold winter days.

Blog hop and socks

BLOG HOP!

I was invited to a blog hop around the world by mazzaus from Australia. Her blog Local & Bespoke is varied with great photos, and always interesting for someone who likes sewing, dyeing, spinning, silk worms. Thanks for inviting me, M!

Here are the three questions I have to answer before I hand over the baton to the next blogger:

1. What are you working on? I’m a spinner, but also a knitter, and occasionally I nalbind, weave bands on an inkle loom or cards, and I also sew. I’m quite fond of tapestry crochet! Right now I’m on “vacation”, which means I’m “resting” after a very intense spinning period that lasted for three and a half years. During that time I studied for the Certificate of Achievement in Handspinning in Online Guild, and the master spinner title in my local guild Björken at Stundars. Now I prepare fleece for spinning, I spindle every now and then, sew clothes, knit, and try to figure out the secrets of card weaving and learn more about inkle weaving. I will continue my work with wools from six Northern Short Tailed sheep, a work I started when spinning for my master spinner title.

2. How does my work differ from others? This is a difficult question. I’m a quite ordinary spinner. I like spinning in the old ways, i.e. I don’t much care about spinning art yarns. I love looking at them and admire the skills of some of the spinners, though. I love spinning and textile history, but that’s not unusual either. For me  spinning is much more than a hobby, even if I don’t spin for trade any more. I spun dog hair for customers for more than a decade. So, I don’t think my spinning differs from other spinners’ with the same interests as me. I spin many kinds of fibers, but mostly wool. I spin on supported spindles, top whorl spindles, I can spin on bottom whorls but prefer top, old wheels, new wheels, electric wheels. I prepare my fibers myself, or buy them readily prepared. I sometimes dye both wool and yarns. But different? No.

3. Why do I create what I do? An urgent need! I have felt this need ever since the beginning of the 80s when I touched my first fleece. I became obsessed very quickly. Every day teaches me something new about fibers and yarns.

And now I hand over the baton to TexasRanger, who lives guess where…  Have a look at her blog Deep in the Heart of Textiles! Like Mazzaus, TexasRanger takes beautiful photos, and she writes about many aspects of textiles. If you scroll down a bit you find her colour fastness test, which is quite interesting to me. I have a few natural coloured yarns sitting in a window since spring, waiting for me to see what the bright spring and summer sun has done to them.

SOCKS

I have mentioned one of the small museums in my municipality many times. Myrbergsgården has more than 5000 textiles, mostly from the late 19th century until WWII. This summer they showed knitted and crocheted items, and yes, the Nordic Knitting Symposium visited the museum and I think most of the knitters loved what they saw. I’ll show mittens and caps in another post, and the Vörå sweater will also have a post of its own. Today we’ll have a look at socks.

The socks from Myrbergsgården below are all knitted between 1880 and 1920.

Stripes
Stripes
Stripes
Stripes
Zig zag
Zig zag
Zig zag
Zig zag
Now it gets more difficult!
Stripes, honeycomb and colour work, stranded, plain
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Honeycomb
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Honeycomb
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Entrelac
Entrelac
Entrelac
Colours!
Colours!

These socks were mostly knit by countrywomen who didn’t have written patterns. They borrowed a sock and tried to knit a similar one. That’s the way we get varieties and new patterns, new versions of old designs. I love that way of knitting socks, and that’s how I do it most of the time, even if I sometimes use a written pattern also. I’m a dedicated sock knitter. I have a sock (or two or three or four…) on the needles all the time. I don’t really need to knit socks, I could buy them if I wanted to.

But the countrywomen in old times couldn’t buy socks. They had to knit them, and often to spin the yarn too. They made the work more fun by using colours and different designs. Most of the socks shown here are for women and young girls. At the end of the 19th century women still wore long skirts. Imagine them lifting the skirts every time they stepped over thresholds or climbed stairs! You could see the beautiful socks then, and also a glimpse of the legs. They sometimes made the needles themselves, too. These jumper needles are made from bicycle spokes by a husband for his wife during WWII, to be seen in a museum in Kokkola:

Knitting needles
Knitting needles

The foot was often knitted in plain grey or brown wool yarn. It was common that new foots where knitted when the old ones couldn’t be darned any more. I don’t know what yarns all of these socks are made from, but I’m sure many of them are hand spun. The bright white and red socks in the first photo are made from commercial cotton yarn.

The sturdy work socks were usually handspun grey wool of a coarser quality, like these from the Stundars museum:

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Socks drying on the mantle piece in Stundars farm house

I’m quite amazed by the beautiful, skilled knitting in all socks shown in this post. I love the colours! You can see that anilin was popular at that time. We do love pink, don’t we? I also love the clearly defined stripes. I think I’m going to abandon the self-striping yarns and go back to the old way of knitting.

The honeycomb (I’m not sure what to call that stitch, please comment if you know!) combined with stranded knitting is very interesting. It was popular in some parts of Finland at that time.

Have you tried entrelac in socks? I have, once, and I had to frog it. It’s not easy even if you have a well written pattern. When the organisers of the Knitting Symposium first asked me to come and teach, they wanted me to teach entrelac socks. I said no. I’m not a very avid knitter, and the thought of teaching entrelac socks scared me. I will try to knit a pair once more to see if I can understand it better, because I sometimes use entrelac in sweaters and that doesn’t scare me at all. The sock in the close up has fewer stitches in the squares in the ankle part, the others seem to have the same amount in the upper part also.

A few decades later, in the 1940s, Norwegian influence like star designs can be seen in Finnish socks. Later still, in the midst of the western world’s boom of self-striping yarns, lace and intricate cables, a thorough book on plain socks was published in Finnish in 2009. It’s called Sukkasillaan (“sock-footed”), and I’d be surprised if it won’t become a classic. If you know the basics of sock knitting, it’s easy to be as creative as the women who knitted the socks in Myrbergsgården and Stundars.

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Two-end knitting and crochet

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:

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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:

Provlapp i Karin Kahnlunds fortsättningskurs

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:

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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:

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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!

Estonian mittens at the Nordic Knitting Symposium

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:

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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:

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The fringes we learned to knit. These are knitted by Kristi Joeste:

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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:

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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.

Fine needles

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.

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Hubby’s new sweater

I started knitting a sweater for hubby in December last year. Now it’s finished. I think he likes it! I composed the sweater from ordinary Gansey patterns and knitted with 3-ply worsted spun yarn from Pirtin Kehräämö. Hubby and Kasper are standing by the big fir tree that grows on our back yard, protecting us from cold northern winds. I knitted a scarf for hubby also, from sock yarns.

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Teaching tapestry crochet at a knitting symposium

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So I will teach tapestry crochet at the Nordic Knitting Symposium 2014. Who could’ve guessed? Not I, for sure. When they called me and asked, I said “tapestry crochet???” in a tone that suggested I don’t know what a crochet hook looks like.

But a short tour in my Ravelry projects reveals the truth: I have crocheted lots of bags and purses in that technique, and I have crocheted/knitted Korsnäs sweaters. So after thinking for a while I said “yes, please, I’ll be glad to teach tapestry crochet!”

I’m so excited to take part in this big knitting event!

Hjärtligt välkomna till Nordiskt Sticksymposium 2014 alla som vill virka något färgglatt och folklig tillsammans med mig! Hjärtligt välkomna alla som vill virka något dämpat och stilrent! Jag håller två halvdagskurser under symposiet. Du lär dig grunderna, och sedan börjar äventyret. Du kan omsätta det du lärt dig i egna projekt i den stil du vill. Hjärtligt välkommen även om du inte alls vill virka utan bara sticka, för den illustra skaran fina sticklärare är imponerande!

Sydämellisesti tervetuloa Pohjoismaiseen Neulesymposiumiin 2014! Tästä tapahtumasta tulee hieno, siitä olen aivan varma. Opetan monivärivirkkausta erittäin mielelläni. Perustaidot opit nopeasti, ja sen jälkeen voit kehittää omia malleja. Tekniikka on monipuolinen ja sitä voi käyttää monella eri tavalla vaatteissa, pusseissa ja laukuissa, sisustuksessa. Tervetuloa myös jos et halua ollenkaan virkata! Vöyrille tulee suuri joukko erittäin taidokkaita ja inspiroivia neuleopettajaa.

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Ugly yarn

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I plied two skeins of yarn some years ago. I used several left overs that looked pretty good together. Out came one of the ugliest yarns I’ve ever spun, so I tried to forget all about it. A couple of weeks ago I happened to see the skeins beside a dark grey commercial Merino/Silk yarn when I was looking for something else in my yarn stash. Wow, I thought. I started to knit at once. I saw there wasn’t enough of the handspuns, but thought I’d find something for the ribbings later. As always when I’m not sure I have enough yarn I started knitting without ribbings and cuffs. I add those later.

I wanted to knit winter pants for my granddaughter, so I dyed a white Finnsheep yarn red. As always, I have several knitting going all the time. One evening the pants lay on the sweater. Wow, I thought. I dyed some more red yarn.

There’s silk, Merino and probably BFL in the sweater, also in the handspun yarns. It’s fairly thin, and it feels lovely. After having it on for a few hours I know I’ve made a new favorite winter sweater. It’s warm, but not hot, and it’s very soft. A worthy sweater to celebrate Wovember!