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.

Mitten 17

Hello and thank you so much for all your kind responses to last week’s scarf! It’s good to be among people who like and value the same sort of things. I’m only popping in briefly today, with a short post about a small hat inspired by a wee mitten.

Around this time last year, I was knitting 24 Norwegian Advent calendar mittens. This year, I filled them with tiny gifts, pinned them onto a wreath and gave them away. I was a bit sad to part with them, but know they’ve gone to a good home.

Besides, I’ve still got the pattern and am just as happy with that, because it provides a lot of inspiration. Both the fronts and the backs of the mittens have 2-colour patterns that can be used in all kinds of other projects. Take mitten 17:

Multiplying the pattern horizontally and working one repeat vertically, I used it to knit a new hat for our grandson.

I’d asked his mother about the colour, and she said, ‘fox brown would be nice’. So fox brown it is. Or oak leaf brown.

Oak leaves look so beautiful on misty, frosty days, outlined in white.

A few weeks ago, someone contacted me on Ravelry about the Advent calender mittens. She couldn’t get the pattern downloaded. I tried it out too and, nope, the link wasn’t working. Trying it out again today, I didn’t have any problems downloading it at all! The internet works in mysterious ways.

The Norwegian Julevotter Adventscalendar can be found here on Ravelry. And here is a direct link to the pattern pdf. If you’d like to download it and it isn’t working, trying again another day may be worthwhile. Good luck!

Better Button Bands

Hello! Today’s post starts with a few nifty knitting tips that some of you will love. If that’s not quite your thing, perhaps you’d like to scroll on for some sightseeing.

The green cable cardigan I knit for our grandson in early summer had warned me about the quality of the patterns in the pattern booklet – there were serious errors in the instructions for the sleeves. I loved the vintage look of the baby items in it, though, and was prepared to give it another try.

Forewarned, I looked through the pattern first. What did it say about the sleeves? ‘Work as the sleeves of sweater 11, p. 57.’ But, but… this IS sweater 11 on p. 57! Ugh, I gave up, just looked at the photos and worked out a pattern myself.

On the green cable cardi, I wasn’t happy with the ends of the button and buttonhole bands – they didn’t form a straight line with the ribbing.

At the time, my friend A. sent me a link with tips for ‘Button Band Gladness’. There was a lot there about how many stitches to pick up, but I didn’t think that was my problem. For me the magic tip came at the very end. Or actually there were two:

1) Find that hard-to-find place VERY close to the edge of the cast-on (or bind-off) to pick up your first (or last) stitch.

2) The first and last stitch of ribbing always roll. So for a k1, p1 rib, instead of starting and ending with one knit stitch, start and end with two.

Especially the last tip helped me get much better button bands, both at the bottom…

… and at the top. Thank you for the link, A.!

However much I would have liked to sew a pair of trousers to go with the little cardi, I can’t do everything. So, after an appointment in a business district of Zwolle, I drove to the city centre for some shopping. The shortest route from the parking place to the shops crosses two canals. My maternal ancestors lived and worked on boats like these.

Behind the old gables some high new ones are now towering.

A long time ago, I worked in a psychologists’ practice here and often strolled through the busy shopping streets during my lunch break. I still love coming here from time to time. One of my favourite shops belongs to a Danish retail chain selling things for the home as well as great crafts materials. Wouldn’t you love to have shelves like these at home, with glass jars filled with ribbons, just to look at?

Into my shopping basket went a tin of Danish butter cookies for the hostess of the next get-together of my knitting group and a few other small gifts.

I treated myself to a lunch of pumpkin soup with bread rolls and a glass of fresh ginger-and-orange tea at the café in a big book shop.

It’s a marvellous shop in a former church building. The original vaulted ceiling and the organ are still there.

But the old familiar feeling of overwhelm came over me and I left the shop without books. I did succeed in finding a pair of soft size 98 sweat pants in forest green (not in the book shop, obviously). Don’t they look nice with the sand-coloured cardi?

Next week, we’re having friends to stay and I don’t know if I’ll be able to write a post. If not next week, I’ll be back the week after that. See you then!

Two Questions You Should Ask Yourself

‘There are two questions you should ask yourself if you’re thinking of taking up knitting as a hobby,’ writer and comedian Paulien Cornelisse said. ‘One: Do I love maths? And two: Do I love frustration? If your answer is yes to both, go for it.’

Paulien said this as a guest in a tv-show where she talks about knitting, Ravelry and the hand-knit sweater with the ‘bla bla bla’ yoke she is wearing – her young son’s design idea.

She also tells us how in the mirror ‘bla bla bla’ is reflected back at her as ‘old old old’. She really cracks me up! (Video here on YouTube.)

Paulien and her two questions repeatedly popped up in my mind when I was knitting a cardigan for our grandson. The pattern is from the Rico Design Baby Merino 01 booklet, and the yarn I used is the same Baby Merino used for all of the patterns in it.

I love the sweet 1950s style sweaters, jackets and socks in the booklet. But knitted shorts and bare legs with all those warm woollies? Hmm, not entirely sure…

So, what’s with the maths and frustration? Let’s start with the frustration. The yarn comes in 25 gram skeins and is a really nice and soft fingering weight wool. Only, several of the skeins had multiple sections like this, split and frayed:

Very frustrating to have to cut the yarn in inconvenient places and have all those extra ends to weave in. The other skeins were fine, though, and I hope this was just an unlucky Monday morning batch.

Next, the maths. On the whole the pattern is okay, although it could have been a little more precise. It’s mainly the sleeves I had problems with. Here the pattern says: Cast on 49 sts, after the ribbing decrease 3 sts evenly, continue straight with the resulting 80 sts and bind off.

Huh? 49 – 3 = 80?!?

Nothing about increases, and nothing about sleeve length either. Fortunately I love maths (not). And fortunately on one of my granny days, I also happened to have drawn a diagram of the machine-knit sweater our grandson was wearing.

So, I started counting rows and calculating increases. If you’d been there, I swear you would have heard my old brain cogs creaking and clicking. But they proved to still be up to some maths and I’m very happy and proud about the way the sleeves turned out. Ridiculous, perhaps, to be euphoric about underarm seams, but don’t they look nice?

I’m not entirely happy with the way the bottom of the button band pulls up – I should have picked up a few more stitches for that.

In spite of the maths and frustration, I enjoyed knitting the lightweight cable fabric and I’m pleased with how the cardigan turned out. It is filled with love and I hope our grandson will feel cosy and cared-for wearing it.

The colour I used is called ‘ivy’, but that it certainly isn’t. It’s a little closer to sage, but with more blue added in. It’s hard to capture in a photograph, but this’ll give you some idea.

Finally, I asked myself two questions. One: Would I use this yarn again? And two: Would I knit more items from this pattern booklet? My answer is yes to both, because I love maths and frustration the softness and dusty colours of the yarn and the style of the designs.

Wishing you a lovely and frustration-free weekend! Bye xxx

A Fair and a Pair of Bootees

Hello! I hope you don’t mind going on another little outing today. This time I’m taking you to the first outdoor fair of the year in this part of the world. It’s a lovely small-scale event organized around three themes: Lifestyle (bags, soaps, home accessories etc.), regional food and wool.

We’re mainly here for the woolly theme, of course, but let’s pay my knitting-group friend Simone (aka Mevrouw Polska) a visit first. Long ago, she dreamed of owning one of those beautiful blue-and-white Polish teapots one day, when she could afford it. Well, she has one now and didn’t stop at that. She grew a small business importing and selling earthenware from the Boleslawiec region in Poland. There’s always something new to see.

It was only afterwards, looking at the photo at home, that I noticed the lovely knitwear. Simone is wearing her cosy Herringbone Hill sweater and one of the many Clapotis scarves she’s knit. With 23.600 projects on Ravelry, Clapotis is a hugely popular pattern. Several people in our knitting group, including me, knit at least one. Have you knit one, too? And behind her, one of the other stall holders is wearing a beautiful yellow cable sweater.

What I love about this fair is that many of the businesses are tiny. Here is Frog Mouse Studio, for instance, with her cheerful hand-dyed yarns. Besides the usual 100 gram skeins, she also has a basket filled with mini-skeins. Very tempting.

The young stallholder tells me that this is her first ever fair, and also that she has designed the sweet yarn labels herself.

Websiteless Wolvrouwtje, owner of a herd of 8 Shetland sheep is taking part for the first time, too. She has some of their yarn spun at a mill, hand spins and dyes some of it and also sells raw fleeces. Everything on a really, really small scale.

Wat Wollie has been in business a little longer – I’ve already knit a pair of socks with some of her hand-dyed sock yarn. New on her stall is local wool from Noordhollander sheep, first dyed and carded by her, then spun at a small spinning mill. The colours on those skeins are so pretty, and its interesting to see how they play out on a hat.

Although I would have liked to support these small-scale businesses by purchasing some of their lovely products, my current yarn-buying policy* didn’t allow me to do so. I’m supporting them in a small way by writing about them instead.

Over the past week, my knitting has also been small-scale. Our grandson urgently needed a new pair of bootees, as you can see.

His mum had already given the wool-felt bootees new soles, but they are now beyond mending. So, I got out some yarn left over from a sweater I’d knit for this thrifty mum, got onto Ravelry and found these Baby Hausschuhe (free pattern from a German blogger available in German, English and Portuguese). It starts with the sole and stitches are picked up from that for the top of the bootees.

The pattern only describes one baby size far too small for our now 1-year-old grandson, but after a few false starts, I’ve been able to adapt it for larger feet (my Ravelry notes on how to do this can be found here).

This was a quick, satisfying and useful little project, even nicer because I already had the perfect yarn for it.

* My current yarn-buying policy is to only buy yarn with a specific project in mind, but before buying anything first look in my stash if there is something I can use. Besides knitting the bootees, I’ve started something else with leftover bits of (sock) yarn from my stash. I hope to tell you about that over the coming weeks. Bye for now!

A Bit of a Puzzle

Hello!

While I’m writing this, I’m sipping lemon-and-ginger tea with honey. I’ve just made a jug using the recipe in this post. It’s said to help with all kinds of ailments, and it also tastes good, too.

Today, I’d like to tell you about a cardigan for our grandson I’ve just finished, from a Danish pattern translated into German. The design is called Lykketræf, Danish for ‘A Stroke of Luck’. ‘A Bit of a Puzzle’ would be a more fitting name, if you ask me. My German is reasonably good, but looking at the pattern I felt panic rising.

Very dense print with lots and lots of abbreviations – without a list explaining the abbreviations! To make things more manageable, I highlighted the instructions for the size I was making and used a sticky note to keep track of where I was.

The cardigan is knit from the top down with a decorative pattern along the raglans. Working slowly, step by step, I was able to work things out in the end.

It took a while and quite a bit of ripping back to get there, though. To be honest, at first I had no idea what I was doing. What on earth did zun mean??? Ah, it must be zunehmen (increase). So, 1 M li zun must be ‘make 1 left leaning increase’, and 1 M re zun must be ‘make 1 right leaning increase’, right? But it didn’t look right.

So I got out some undyed DK-weight yarn and tried out the raglan decorations separately.

This showed me what the problem was. German links can mean both ‘left’ and ‘purl’. And rechts can mean both ‘right’ and ‘knit’. What I needed were purl and knit increases, instead of left and right leaning increases.

Okay, time to start anew. Was it plain sailing from there on? Uhm, not exactly. I won’t bore you with all my struggles, but there was quite a bit of ripping out and re-knitting (on 2.5 mm/US 1.5 needles) until I was happy with the buttonholes, the I-cord along the front edges and the bind-off. Fortunately the yarn stood up to it.

Fronts and back are knit in one piece from the armholes down. The sleeves are knit flat. I used mattress stitch for seaming them, joining a few rows at a time loosely before tightening the thread.

There is a great video explaining mattress stitch in garter here. Once you get into the rhythm, joining ‘smiles’ to ‘frowns’ (as the tutorial calls the different garter bumps) is a nice and contemplative thing to do, really.

And here is my finished Lykketræf cardi – the tiny olive wooden buttons are just what it needed.

I’m taking it with me on Monday, my regular day for looking after our grandson. Hope it fits. The wool-and-cotton blend feels like just the right kind of yarn for this in-between season. Although the weather forecast for next week promises us colder weather with wintry showers, there are many signs that spring is around the corner.

  • Pattern: Lykketræf by Bente Geil
  • Yarn: Geilsk ‘Bomuld og Uld’ (55% wool, 45% cotton, 50 g/254 yds/232 m)
  • My Ravelry notes here

Now it’s time to start something new – yay! Enjoy your weekend and see you again next week!

A Forest Green Jacket

Hello!

Choosing yarn online is a tricky business, as many of you will know. Colours can look very different on a computer screen than in real life. I had forest green in mind for a jacket for our grandson. You know, that deep, fairly dark, leafy green. The yarn did look lighter and, well, different on my screen, but it was called ‘forest green’, so I thought it would be all right and ordered it.

When it arrived, it was not what I had in mind, and very much what it had looked like on the computer screen. Oh, well, it was a nice colour for a little boy anyway.

The last time I wrote about the jacket, I said that I ‘only’ needed to knit the hood. Well, the hood was almost as big as the rest of the cardigan.

I finished the knitting on Saturday afternoon and started weaving in the ends and seaming. It is getting dark early at this time of year and for work like this I need to switch the lights on at around three.

While I was seaming and sipping tea, I meditated on the term ‘forest green’. How could the yarn producer have such a different idea about it from what I had in mind? My Oxford Dictionary defines forest green as ‘any of various shades of green associated with forests’. Not very helpful. Googling it, I found out that on various websites about colour, ‘forest green’ is indeed the shade of the yarn, and that what I have always thought of as forest green is generally called ‘dark olive’.

In a colour story about forest green on the Artists’ Network, I found this painting from the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum:

The accompanying text said: ‘In a sense, the name “forest green” is a misnomer, because as artists well know, leaves and mosses are never a single color, much less a single value. Nevertheless, forest green does evoke the overall impression of foliage […] When the color finds its way into domestic spaces, it can lend a degree of earthiness and calm. This connection with nature is apparent in Still Life With Teapot, Cup and Fruit by Émile Bernard (1868–1941), in which the colors of the man-made objects seem to take their cue from the color of the fruit.’

Earthiness and calm – that sounds like a good thing for a baby jacket.

On Sunday, my husband was out on an excursion and I was home alone. A good moment to finish the seaming and sew on the buttons. It was a lovely, sunshiny day. Too lovely to spend indoors entirely, so I went for a bicycle ride as well.

Still shocked by the realisation that I’ve had a different mental image of this shade of green from the rest of the world all my life, I saw what I now know is ‘forest green’ everywhere. On a church door…

… on the lid of a wheelie bin…

… and on every bicycle route sign I passed.

For me, it’s still more like garden-and-kitchen-waste-wheelie-bin-lid-green or bicycle-route-sign-green than the colour of a forest, grumble, grumble. (I’m very much attached to my own mental image of forest green.)

It won’t make any difference to our grandson, though. His favourite colours are still those of his Mum and Dad’s eyes. As long as the jacket is soft and warm, he’ll be happy with it. And it certainly is that.

For any of you with babies and toddlers to knit for, here are a few useful details:

  • Pattern: Little Pixie Jacket (here on Ravelry)
  • Size made: 74-80/12-18 months (our grandson is only 7 months old, but he’s a big boy)
  • Yarn: Garnstudio Drops ‘Merino Extra Fine’, 7 skeins, colour 31 Forest Green
  • Needles: 4.0 mm/US 6

Knitter’s notes:

  • The sleeves are knit on to the body by casting on stitches at the sides. They have both underarm seams and seams on the top.
  • I put the sleeve and hood stitches on holders (old circular knitting needles) and used the 3-needle bind-off instead of seaming them.
  • Having knit this jacket before, I knew that the sleeves were waaay to long and made them a size smaller this time.
  • The hood is very warm and cosy for babies still lying down in their prams or strollers. For toddlers sitting up or walking, I think the hood will be too heavy and cumbersome hanging down the back.
  • The hood has a garter edging that is folded to the outside. The pattern says to only attach it at the bottom on both sides, but that won’t keep it in place. I attached it with invisible stitches all around.

Thank you for your patience with my forest green grumblings. Have a lovely weekend and see you next week!

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.