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.
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.