Norwegian Knitting and Reading

Hello! I hope all is well with you and you’re looking forward to the weekend. With a busy time ahead of me, I want to fill this weekend with as much quiet time knitting and reading as possible. The knitting project I started last week ticks two of the boxes on my ‘would-like-to-do list’ for 2024:

  • Norwegian Knitting
  • Make everyday things for my family and myself

It’s a sweater for our grandson with a colourwork yoke.

It isn’t a traditional Norwegian sweater, as it is knit from the top down and has a round yoke. But it comes from a Norwegian knitting book, uses Norwegian wool and has a Norwegian feel to it, so I think it counts. It is the Vinterkonglegenser, or Winter Pine Cone Pullover from Klømpelømpe de vier seizoenen.

The original title is Klømpelømpe strikk året rundt, and the title of the English edition is All-Year-Round Knitting for Little Sweethearts. The English title isn’t very well chosen, because there are quite a few patterns for adults in it, as well. The sweater has a matching hat and trousers to knit.

The pattern describes many sizes, for both children and adults. The swatch I knit, a sweater that fits our grandson now, and the numbers in the pattern told me that I needed to make the size for 6 years. Six?!? Our grandson isn’t even two! Surely that couldn’t be right?

I know that we Dutch are some of the tallest people on the planet, and our grandson is of above average size for a Dutch child, but surely Norwegian 6-year-olds can’t be the size of a 22-month-old Dutch boy? Well, I’ll place my trust in the numbers and if I’m wrong I’ll just rip it out and start anew.

I like the colours the designers used, but am using a very different combo for my grandson. Originally I had chosen a pale taupe for the pine cones…

… but after knitting a few rows I decided that it was rather insipid and swapped it for the golden brown left over from this little fella knit in the same yarn (Sandnes Garn Tynn Merinoull). Much better!

While I sat quietly knitting, a thought popped up. Wouldn’t it be nice to enrich this year’s Norwegian knitting experience with some Norwegian reading alongside? My small Scandinavian library mainly consists of Swedish literature, but there are four Norwegian books (in English and Dutch) among them – three books by Sigrid Undset and one by Trygve Gulbranssen.

The slim book Vigdis Gunnarsdochter* by Sigrid Undset seems like a good choice to accompany the small sweater on my needles, so I’ll start with that. The Norwegian books I own are all older classics and I’ve read two of them before. I’d like to read some new-to-me and/or more recent Norwegian books, too, but have no idea which ones. Suggestions welcome! (I don’t read thrillers).

*Original title Fortaellingen om Viga-Ljot og Vigdis; English translation Gunnar’s Daughter.

Child’s Play?

Hello!

Last week my search for something simple to knit took me to Joure. This week it’s taking me to the past. Looking for inspiration on my book shelves, I came upon my very first knitting books.

For several years Ik leer breien (I’m learning to knit) parts 1, 2 and 3 were the only knitting books in our home. On the whole, knitting wasn’t something learnt from books, but rather from (grand)mothers, aunts, cousins or neighbours. And at school, of course. We did have a few magazines, too, I think, but most of those came later.

These three booklets were written by Mrs. A. H. Beyst, Needle Crafts Education Consultant for the City of Rotterdam (can you imagine having a job like that?). They were published by the International Wool Secretariat and the Dutch knitting yarn industry, and that shows. Besides knitting, they teach us a LOT about wool and yarn production – from sheep to skein.

 ‘Texel also has many sheep, but the best wool comes from Australia’, the International Wool Secretariat tells us. I skipped these parts of the booklets as a child (boring!), but find them interesting and amusing now.

There is no publication date in any of the booklets, but they came into my life around 1970, when I looked like this.

I remember the school photographer asking me to take off my hood and me refusing. It was cold and the hood was so nice and comfy.

Part one is aimed at children aged 6-10. It starts out with really simple, nice projects suitable for children that age, like this garter stitch sleeping bag for twin dollies.

It has a steep learning curve, though, with part one already explaining short rows. Personally, I wasn’t enthusiastic about the tea cosy, but I did enjoy knitting several striped clothes hanger covers.

In part 2 (for children aged 8 and up) we were taught to knit als grote mensen (like grown-ups), i.e. socks and mittens on 4 needles.

Although at that age I already was an avid knitter, I wasn’t really interested in knitting socks yet. And part 3 of the series (for the same age group) lost my interest completely. It is the weirdest little book, filled with endless variations on stitch patterns – knit-purl combinations, ribbing, lace, and most of all page upon page of slip-stitch patterns.

What was Mrs. A. H. Beyst thinking? Was she trying to put children off knitting for life?

Now, over 50 years later, I’m looking at Ik leer breien 3 with different eyes, seeing possibilities. Over the past week, I’ve been knitting swatches using and varying on slip-stitch and other stitch patterns from the booklet. I think there is something there that I could use for a simple project.

Slip stitches have become popular over the past few years, with Stephen West’s Slipstravaganza shawl as the most awe-inspiring example. For copyright reasons I can’t post a picture here, but it can be found here on Stephen’s website and here on Ravelry.

A picture of what I’d like to make and what yarn I could use is beginning to form in my mind. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be yet, but I think it’ll include slip stitches and I’m certain that it’ll be far, far simpler and less flamboyant than Stephen’s creation.

Do you have old knitting books or magazines that you treasure, too? Or did you learn knitting entirely without them? I’d love to read about your memories!

The Beauty of Green Things

Hello!

‘On some day of late January, when the honey-coloured west is full of soft grey cloud, when one lone minstrel thrush is chanting to the dying light, what is the thrill that shakes us?’ This is how Mary Webb starts The Spring of Joy (first published in 1917), a lovely collection of essays about the healing power of nature. This ‘thrill that shakes us’, she writes, is a sense of ‘oneness with all beauty, seen and unseen’.

It is early February now, and unlike the south of the country we haven’t had any snow so far. Over the past month the sky has often been ‘full of soft grey cloud’. Or a uniform dull grey. Or pouring with rain. How can we experience a sense of oneness with all beauty on days like that?

Well, there are subtler things than stunning sunsets and spectacular snowscapes. Webb writes about the beauty to be found in the movements, sounds and scents of nature. Or in shadow or shape. In the presence of an old oak tree…

… surrounded by sheep and buffeted by an invigorating breeze I know what she means.

In this little gem of a book, there is also an essay about The Beauty of Colour. According to Webb, ‘Of all colours, brown is the most satisfying.’ I don’t know about that, but I do agree with her when she writes: ‘In blue the spirit can wander, but in green it can rest’.

On the whole blue is my favourite colour – my spirit loves to wander. But at the moment I am also strongly drawn to green.

I’ve finished the Norwegian-patterned mittens for our daughter, woven in the ends and washed them. The last thing to do now is knitting in the linings. While the mittens were drying, I made a start on a green cardigan for our grandson knit from the top down:

The lovely fir-tree-like pattern along the raglan increases posed quite a puzzle. It’s taken me several attempts to get the hang of it, but I’m on the right track now.

And looking for something else, I came across a skein of a beautiful green tweed yarn. It’s been in my stash for a long, long time. Now I’d love to knit it up into something special, but what? A pair of mittens? A cowl? A hat?

Speaking of the beauty of green things and the healing power of nature, I’ve just finished reading Landlines by Raynor Winn. A dear friend gave it to me as a birthday gift last year. I didn’t read it straightaway but kept it to have something to look forward to for January. This is the hardcover edition – it is worth having for the beautiful dust jacket alone.

It is also very much worth reading. Landlines is actually the third book in a series. I haven’t read the first two (The Salt Path and The Wild Silence), but that wasn’t a problem – it can be read on its own.

The author’s husband, Moth, has a neurodegenerative disorder (similar to Parkinson and Alzheimer) for which there is no cure. He is told that his condition will only deteriorate. After this devastating diagnosis and subsequently losing their home, they make the unusual decision to walk the 630-mile-long South West Coast Path (described in the first book). This turns out to lead to a miraculous improvement in Moth’s health.

In Landlines, Moth’s health has gone downhill again and the couple set out for another long-distance walk, this time starting in the north of Scotland. It’s a moving personal story with unexpected twists and turns, interesting encounters and insights, and beautiful descriptions of the landscape and wildlife along the way.

Well, I’m going to make a start on the mitten linings now and hope to have them finished by next week. To close off here is a picture of some twists and turns in our most recent non-so-long-distance walk. Take care! xxx

NB: De boeken van Raynor Winn zijn ook in het Nederlands vertaald: Het zoutpad, De wilde stilte en Landlijnen.

Norwegian Mitten Inspiration

Hello!

Knitting 24 tiny Norwegian Advent mittens and a pair of normal sized ones, has made me put ‘more Norwegian knitting’ on my list for 2023. That doesn’t necessarily mean more mittens, but looking for inspiration, I first of all pulled several Norwegian mitten books from my bookshelves. I thought you might like to look along with me.

The first one is Mittens from around Norway, by Nina Granlund Sæther:

This English translation of an originally Norwegian book contains 43 mitten patterns from many different parts of the country. There is obviously a lot of colourwork, but also some cables, knit-and-purl patterns, and a little lace.

There are large and clear photographs of the finished mittens and also photos of the museum pieces they were inspired by. With one or two exceptions, the mittens have been knit in widely available Norwegian yarns.

The next book is Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea, also in English:

This is solely about black-and-white mittens (and gloves) in the Selbu tradition. The author has researched and reproduced part of the mitten collection of The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle as well as mittens from a private collection.

This book provides quite a bit of historical information and also goes into special techniques. It contains patterns for 31 pairs of mittens and gloves. Shea used Norwegian yarns for many of them, but also Shetland as well as some other yarns.

I brought the next publication home from a visit to Selbu (about 70 km south-east of Trondheim) – Selbustrikk:

This is only a thin booklet, but it contains a wealth of inspiration for mittens and gloves, as well as socks, hats and a few scarves. Again, everything in traditional black-and-white. It is in Norwegian, but the diagrams speak a universal language. By far the most of the patterns use Rauma Gammelserie yarn, and some of them Rauma Finull garn.

A must-see if you ever get the opportunity to visit this part of Norway is the Selbu Folk Museum, or Bygdemuseum. The museum has a lovely collection of mittens and other knitwear. My husband took the photo at the top of this post during our visit there. Here is a closer look:

Awe-inspiring, all those finely knit, beautifully patterned mittens and other knits, don’t you think?

Zooming out again to the entire country, here is one of the most beautiful knitting books on my shelves: Håndplagg til Bunader og Folkedrakter:

This 300-page tome (in Norwegian) is crammed with mittens, gloves and wrist warmers in all kinds of different knitting techniques. Many of them are embellished with embroidery or beads. The photography is stunning, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of leafing through this book. So inspiring!

All of the above is inspiration FOR Norwegian mittens But why not take inspiration FROM Norwegian mittens as well?

Our next-door neighbours are expecting their first grandchild any day, and I thought I’d knit her a wee hat. I took the striped hat from Debbie Bliss’ Baby Cashmerino 2 booklet as a starting-point. But instead of knitting stripes, I looked at my Advent mittens for inspiration and came up with this:

A simple Norwegian-mitten-inspired baby hat – a satisfying little knit.

After looking through all these amazing mitten books, I still have no idea what my next Norwegian or Norwegian-inspired project is going to be. More mittens? Gloves or wrist warmers? Socks? A hat? Or even an entire sweater? Whatever it’s going to be, I’ll keep you posted!

Links:

If you’d like to read more about Norwegian mittens and can’t get hold of any of the books I’ve described, there is always the internet, of course.

Mitten Progress and a Walk

It’s Sunday morning, 4˚C. Rain and hail storms are accompanied by strong gusts of wind. Fancy a walk? If you do, make sure to wear warm wind-and-waterproof clothes. And wellies, too, because the path will be flooded in places.

It can get quite busy here with walkers and cyclists, but today we seem to be the only ones. Why would that be?

No wait, there is someone there in the distance. It’s one of the shepherds with her two dogs and part of the flock. They are out in all weathers.

Walking here, I often think of the people who built these burial monuments.

How did the landscape look in their time? What was it like living here then? And what would they think, seeing us in our colourful synthetic outdoor clothing?

I am wearing a hand-knit woolly hat and cowl. But underneath my bright red polyamide rain jacket I’m wearing a polyester and elastane fleece sweater, and my hands are kept warm by fleece-lined machine-knit gloves. Fie! As a dedicated knitter, I really need to do something about that.

First the Northman mittens for our daughter and a few other things, though. I’ve started them again and have made quite a bit of progress. The first attempt was on the small side.

Going up a needle size, from 3.5 mm (US 4) to 3.75 mm (US 5), makes them slightly wider and longer. They’ll be the right size now, I think.

Writing this, I’m thinking of the book of Winterverhalen / Winter Tales, written by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Zanna Goldhawk. One of the stories is about a grandmother whose needles go clickety-click, clickety click…

… and a very special mitten, welcoming all animals seeking refuge from a storm.

A wonderful image, and a great book for both children and adults.

Well, time to close off. There is just one last thing. Towards the end of our walk the sun peeks through, and LOOK!

Rumpelstiltskin

Hello, and thank you for all of your lovely comments last week, here and on Ravelry. It seems that most of you are multi-project knitters/crafters, too, and it was interesting to read about your knitting and other projects and how you manage them.

Some of you asked things like, ‘where do you store all those baskets?’ and ‘could we see your crafting space?’ Well, I do not have a dedicated crafts room or anything. My knitting baskets are all in the living room, next to our yin-and-yang black-and-white Ikea chairs. Most of them are hidden between the black chair and the sofa.

Two small ones are next to the white chair. If you look closely, you can also see the strap and a corner of my crochet project bag hanging from the chair.

And that is just my knitting and crochet. Today, I’d like to tell you a bit about the basket next to my spinning wheel.

In it is what is, to me, a mountain of spinning fibre. The picture below was taken after spinning up part of it, and it still looks like a mountain:

It makes me think of Rumpelstiltskin, you know, the fairy tale where the king locks a miller’s daughter in a room filled with straw and she has to spin it into gold before morning or she’ll be killed. On three consecutive nights she is given more and more straw to spin. Fortunately a little man comes to her aid, all the straw is spun up and the miller’s daughter gets to marry the king.

In return for his services the little man makes the girl promise to give him their firstborn child. The only way for her to get out of that is to guess his name. In my book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, he rips himself in two when she finds out that his name is Rumpelstiltskin.

Even as a young girl, I had problems with this story. I mean, what kind of a ‘reward’ is it for the girl that she gets to marry a cruel and greedy king? Annet Schaap must have had the same feeling when she wrote De Meisjes, her retelling of seven fairy tales. (It was published in German as Mädchen and will be published in English as The Girls next year.)

The girls in these stories show us that it’s no good believing in fairy tales. Some of them take matters into their own hands. Some of them do dream of princes and keep waiting. But unexpected things happen, and don’t be surprised if the frog turns out to be better company than the prince.

The first story is called Meneer Pelsteel (mr. Pelstil). There is still a king, there is still a miller’s daughter who has to spin bales of straw into gold, and there is still this little man helping her. But the ending is very different…

It’s a great little book – very imaginative, poetic, wise and funny, with lovely illustrations by the author. Because of its sometimes ominous undertones I don’t think it’s suitable for young children, though.

The difference between the miller’s daughter and me is that I’d love to be locked up in a room with my spinning fibres. In fact, these spinning fibres are already gold before they’re spun. A friend gave me 200 grams of Ashford silk/merino sliver in a shade called Salvia (bobbin below right). Instead of turning it into a shawl or scarf, I’m adding 600 grams of John Arbon’s Harvest Hues top, a merino/zwartbles blend in their Woad shade (bobbin below left).

All in all, this is a generous sweater quantity and I have now spun and plied about a third of it. I’m plying two threads of Harvest Hues with one of the Ashford blend.

To see what it will look like when knit up, I’ve knit a swatch. It’s an aran-weight yarn with a gauge of 17-18 stitches to 10 cm/4 inches on 4.5 mm/US 7 needles.

It is ‘busier’ than I expected, so I think I’ll also spin some in just the semi-solid darker blue to tone things down a bit, perhaps for the ribbings.

This tale will be continued at a later date. If I don’t prick my finger on my spinning wheel (how???) and fall asleep for a hundred years, I’ll be back with something else next week. Bye for now!

Two Klømpelømpe Hats

Hello!

Our grandson is 6 months old now. He cries from time to time to indicate that he needs something, of course, but on the whole he is a cheerful little chap. He is growing fast and it will not be long before he has outgrown his pram.

He lives in a quiet neighbourhood with lots of green space. The bicycle tracks meandering through it are perfect for pram walks.

Often he falls asleep as soon as we set off, but when he lies awake, I can see him looking at the sky, and listening to the singing of birds and the rustling of leaves.

I wonder if he is also aware of that special scent of autumn in the air.

How fortunate we are to be able to enjoy our strolls in this peaceful part of the world.

He has suddenly outgrown all of the hats I knit for him, too. So I quickly knit up two new ones, both from patterns in the first Klømpelømpe book.

The first baby cardigan I knit from this book was not a success – the instructions were unclear, the stitch pattern didn’t match up around the raglan armholes, and it turned out far too small. So, I ripped it out and put the book aside disappointed and frustrated.

A visit to a dear cousin of mine made me pick it up again, though. She is mother to 7 and grandmother to the same number, and the proud owner of a stack of Klømpelømpe books. She has knit many items from them for her grandchildren and is very enthusiastic about them.

Her enthusiasm was infectious, so I got the book out again, dug up the yarn left over from a jacket I knit for our grandson, and made the Henry hat.

I was still a bit puzzled by the instructions, but was able to work things out. Based on my earlier experience I made the size for 1-2 years and it fits perfectly.

I also had lots of yarn left over from the Pyrus Blanket I designed myself.

Some of that became the dots in the Henry hat and I had more than enough left for the Knot hat. The Knot hat has two weird antennae knit on to the top that are transformed into an adorable set of knots.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of the Klømpelømpe books yet, they are a series of knitting books from Norway that have been translated into many languages. According to the website Booksfromnorway ‘Klømpelømpe is a Norwegian dialect word from the Western region where the authors come from, and simply is an expression for describing a sweet, little child – a sweetheart.’

The book I’ve knit the hats from has ‘knitting for babies and children’ as its subtitle, and most of the patterns in it are for this age group. But it also contains a few simple accessories for adults as well.

I’m glad these hats turned out well, because everything in the Klømpelømpe books looks incredibly attractive and I’d like to make more from them.

Useful info:

  • The authors’ website can be found here in Norwegian. And a complete list of all the books in Norwegian here. (There is an English website, too, but it’s very limited.)
  • If you’re looking for translations of the books in your own language – the English translations all have ‘Knitting for Little Sweethearts’ in their titles, while most other translations retain the word Klømpelømpe or Klompelompe somewhere in the title.
  • The yarn I used is Drops Merino Extra Fine in colours 01 and 07.
  • The Pyrus Blanket can be found here on Ravelry.

The Sewing Machine

Hello!

This is the sewing machine I inherited from my mum, a Singer, above with its wooden case and below without it.

I have happy memories, sitting side by side with mum, with me turning the crank and her sewing.

My mum was also a knitter, but she loved sewing even more. She sewed many, many dresses, skirts, blouses, trousers, jackets, curtains and other items for her family and home.

I love sewing, too, but am first and foremost a knitter. My daughter is like her grandmother, and sews more than she knits. I have had the old Singer serviced and am passing it on to her, but for the time being it still lives in our house.

One of the reasons I’m writing about this now is that I’ve lost my knitting mojo for a bit and don’t have anything interesting to show you. Another is that I’ve recently re-read The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie.

The novel is set in southern Scotland and spans over a century. It starts with the mass strike at the Singer factory in 1911, moves through the 1950s/1960s, briefly visits 1980 and ends in 2016. There are several protagonists. What binds these people together are family ties (with interesting twists) and the fact that sewing machines play an important role in their lives in one way or another.

One of the things I loved about The Sewing Machine, apart from the sympathetic cast of characters, is that it is filled with period details, like descriptions of interiors (especially kitchens), clothing, and what people did for a living. The author must have done an enormous amount of research. This doesn’t make it into a dry history book, though. Not at all! The details are cleverly woven into the fabric of the story.

If you love sewing, I think you’ll enjoy reading The Sewing Machine. I certainly have. And it wasn’t just a great read – it also made me look up the serial number of my mum’s sewing machine: H 957 200.

I’d never thought of doing that before. I know that my mum bought it in the late 1950s or early 1960s, and had always just assumed that it was from that period. Turns out it is from 1906!!! I could have known that she would never have bought a new one, but that it was so old – I had no idea!

My own sewing machine is a modern one…

… with extra feet for various purposes, lots of different stitches and three buttonhole options.

It can do far more and is much faster than my mum’s old machine. But I wonder if it will still be sewing in 116 years’ time. For me, my mum’s old Singer will always remain THE sewing machine.

I know that many of you are knitters, but do you sew, too? What type of machine do you have? What do you do with it: sew clothes or other things, embroider, quilt? Do you have special sewing-machine related memories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

If you happen to have an old Singer sewing machine, too, and would like to find out how old it is, there is a list of serial numbers on the website of the International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society here. If you have a different brand, visiting the website of the ISMACS may be worthwhile, too – it contains loads of interesting information.

Baby Things, Worries and Hope

Hello!

March is giving us many gloriously sunshiny days this year. The weather seems very much at odds with the world news. But the sun will shine, regardless of what we’re up to down here on Planet Earth.

I’ve used some of these sunny days to wash baby things. I’ve given most of our daughter’s clothes and other stuff away, but kept some, too. After nearly three decades in the attic they’d become rather musty. Now, after a wash and a day in the sun and the wind, all sweet-smelling and neatly folded, they are ready and waiting for her baby.

I’ve been busy knitting, as well. When I first thought of publishing some of my designs on Ravelry, I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:

‘But if I become a Ravelry designer, does that mean that I can never knit from a pattern anymore? In that case, I’d rather not.’ ‘Don’t be silly. Of course you can continue knitting from patterns!’ ‘Oh, that’s a relief! Because, you know, there are so many beautiful designs around. And it’s just so nice when someone else does all the thinking, swatching and maths for you.’

At the moment, I’m knitting from this booklet – Bloom at Rowan:

It contains 11 designs by Erika Knight – baby things, garments for mums-to-be, a crochet blanket and a simple shawl. I’m knitting a cardigan called Little Lamb, and have even chosen the same yarn and colour used in the pattern.

Terribly uncreative, but so very nice and relaxing. I’m going to knit the matching hat (with ears!) and bootees as well.

Meanwhile I’m also working on a baby design of my own. Here is a peek. More about it when it’s finished (which may take a while.)

While I’m knitting for our first grandchild, I’m beset with worries. No need to spell them out, I think.

A group of Ukrainian refugees is now staying in a holiday accommodation near us. (Interestingly, the same accommodation housed a group of Russian refugees from 1945-1947.) There is a special fund to provide them with everything they need, and we are asked to contribute by buying some of these ‘drops’:

A donation often feels like a drop in the ocean, but in this case I know it really helps. I hope these people will feel safe and welcome here. More information about this small initiative here.

Speaking of hope – I’m reading this:

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams. (NL titel: Het boek van hoop: levenslessen voor een mooiere toekomst)

I haven’t finished reading it, so can’t write review, but here are a few quotes:

  • ‘Hope is often misunderstood. People tend to think that it is simply passive wishful thinking: I hope something will happen but I’m not going to do anything about it. This is indeed the opposite of real hope, which requires action and engagement.’
  • ‘Hope is contagious. Your actions will inspire others.’
  • ‘…millions of drops actually make the ocean.’

Hope to see you again next week!

Minibieb

Hello!

It was on my way to the Knitting and Crochet Days in Amsterdam in May 2019 that I saw the first minibieb (pronounced as: mini beep). It was a beautifully crafted boat, complete with mooring posts.

Over the past 18 months or so, when our ‘real’ libraries were closed for a long time, these little libraries have mushroomed around here.

During my walks and bicycle rides I’ve taken pictures whenever I passed one. Most of them are like small cabinets, some with sloping and others with pointed roofs (click on images to enlarge).

Similar, but still all different. Many of them have mottos, like ‘give and take’; ‘one out, one in’, or:

‘A good book can be shared together, borrowed, swapped, donated.’

Here is a peek inside one:

Several English books among the ones in Dutch, a few crime and other novels, and a book with the intriguing title Chuapi Punchapi Tutayaca (or is it the author’s name?). As well as one that is also on my own book shelves: Zomerboek (The Summer Book) by Tove Jansson – who would give that gem away, I wonder?  

Some little libraries are tiny…

… and found along city streets lined with wheelie bins.

Others are slightly bigger and found in out-of-the way places. Along a grassy path…

…I found this one, also selling plum jam and walnuts.

En route, I passed this sign, where we are meant to tralalalalaaaa our way to the next little library.

One little library in our neighbourhood is located inside a café.

And several provide benches, so that you can start reading straightaway, like this one.

And this one.

Nice, isn’t it, with little olive trees on either side of the bench. This minibieb is called Bieb aan ‘t Diep.

That means Library on the Canal. And this is what it looks out on.

I had a nice chat with the owner of this one…

… that has a bench with a brass plate on it saying ‘Little Book Bench’.

I asked her why she decided to start a minibieb. She told me of her lifelong love of books. She also mentioned things like social cohesion, enlivening the street and serving people (especially young and elderly) who can’t easily get to the public library.

I’m writing about the minibieb because I think it’s a wonderful new phenomenon. And also because there is a link between books and my new knitting design. We’ve already been out for a photo shoot. I’m working hard on the lay-out now and hope to publish the pattern next week. Here is a sneak peek.

Googling, I discovered that the minibieb movement started in Wisconsin in the US and that there now are little free libraries (as they are officially called) in 91 countries. Do you have them near you, too? Do you use them?

Some people seem to be worried that they will steal readers from the public libraries. Hm, maybe. Or maybe they’ll create new readers eager to move onto larger libraries after a while.

More information and a world map can be found on the Little Free Library website. The Dutch minibieb website can be found here. I don’t know if this goes for the rest of the world, but in the Netherlands there are many, many more minibiebs than those registered on the website. Once you’ve found one, you can always ask the owner if they know more near where you live.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope to be back next week with a knitting story. Bye for now and take care!