tisdag 29 maj 2012

Visiting friends

Last Sunday we visited our friends Kerstin and Bosse and their sheep (breed "Värmlandsfår"). They had 21 lambs, and I was totally charmed. Who could resist a three week old lamb?
Kerstin and Bosse give their sheep utmost attention and take care of them all in the best of ways.
We spent half  a day with them all, it passed in a blink. Kerstin has the fleece spun at Wålstedts in Dala-Floda to a z-plied yarn for twined knitting. I have used it and I really like it a lot. So I added to our stash before  leaving.
I think that it is a special feeling knitting with a yarn knowing that I have met the sheep that provided the wool. Nowadays that is not a common thing - a hundred years ago it was the other way around.

söndag 27 maj 2012

Treasures in Dala-Floda - part 3

We also visited Wålstedts - my favourite producer of yarn, especially the z-plied yarn for twined knitting.
Lasse took us on a tour explaining the history of the company, the ideology behind it, and what makes them special compared to bigger yarn producers. Wålstedts have a very small production and take care to make a yarn with high quality. Lasse also explained that the yarn can sometimes be a little uneven and that that is because they take great care not to stress the fibre with e.g. to much carding before spinning. This can result in a somewhat more uneven yarn (since it is hard for the spinning machines to process) but the lustre and strength will be undiminished.

And there were of course many temptations around! I bought some of this dyed fibre - it will probably be part of my summer spinning.

The shop is situated in the same building. 

onsdag 23 maj 2012

Treasures in Dala-Floda - part 2

Everyday life might have been hard and grey - but come church day or weddings and baptisms  and all stops were pulled out to create the most fantastic fabrics and garments. Shown above are men´s embroidered  wristlets. They really shame the way we often dress today - to study these is also to experience the energy and intensity that they emit. 

Here are some patterns found on jackets and sleeves in Dala-Floda. They are knitted in a very fine gauge with thin yarn and thin needles. The yarn was spun at home. The sleeves were knitted in natural white and natural black/brown, and when finished they were dyed red.

They are all so evenly and poignantly knitted.  Touching them and examining them is like reading an old tale - there is a bond through generations. The skilled craftsmanship is awesome. 

It is a bit unnerving to realise that this technique (twined knitting) was almost lost not so long ago. We have to see to it that this knowledge now is passed on and not forgotten.

söndag 20 maj 2012

Treasures in Dala-Floda - part 1

I have just returned home after five days in Dala-Floda, Dalecarlia (Dalarna) and my head is spinning with the effort  of digesting all the information and the experiences that I have had during these last days.
Anna-Karin Jobs Arnberg and Karin Kahnlund had arranged a course about twined-knitting and embroidery in Dala-Floda. They delivered far beyond my expectations. But let´s start from the beginning.

The course took place at Dala-Floda Värdshus (an Inn) beautifully situated close to the lake. The owners were very friendly and made everyone feel at home. We were just over 20 participants from Sweden and Norway. 
On the very first day, entering the room, we saw lots and lots of very old examples of the local handicraft. Right away I knew that this was going to be special (in the very best of ways). During the following days we were privileged to participate in workshops and lectures regarding different  techniques of local embroidery and twined-knitting as well as historic background, folklore and music.

One day we made a "stickjälsvandring" - walking while knitting. In the old days it was considered impossible not being productive to the maximum, so knitting while e.g. herding cattle was a must. We met our guide Lill-Kerstin, who was to guide us to a "fäbod" -  a place high in the mountain forest where the farmers took their cattle for grazing during the summer. We were lucky since the weather was nice and quite perfect for walking.

Lill-Karin entertained us with folk lore and hilarious local stories. Walking while knitting can be nice if you are knitting something not too complicated. 

When we arrived at our destination we were served lunch by the hosts from the Inn, and thrilled by Anna-Karin´s "kulning". "Kulning" is an ancient way of singing/shouting that was used for communication  and calling the cattle by women in the old days. It is very forceful and in an extremely high pitch, it can be heard for kilometers around. The tunes have a very "old" feeling to them and I find them beautiful.

söndag 13 maj 2012

BALTIC - Mittens in twined knitting

For some years now I have read a lot (everything I could get my hands on) about knitting in the Baltic region. Many interesting books have been published during the last years and revealed a formidable treasure of knitting traditions in e.g. Estonia and Latvia. 

The patterns are often knitted in a gauge hard to believe, with very thin needles, the colours are often bold and mixed without fear for clashes. My friends often joke about my love for grey and brown (I am usually not a colourful knitter), but these traditions are impossible not to be influenced by. I could no longer resist knitting a project inspired by these countries.

These mittens feature mostly Latvian patterns. The main stitch pattern is charted from a picture of  a Latvian mitten, the all over design is my own and do not follow traditions from the countries that inspired me.

I chose to knit these in twined knitting. Not only because I love twined knitting but also because I have a strong belief that this is not the first time that a pattern is shared around the Baltic Sea. Our countries have had much in common during many centuries. When I visited Dalarnas Museum in Falun I saw, and charted, a fantastic pattern. It was featured on a sleeve from a coat from Enviken, Dalecarlia. The pattern was (of course) knitted in twined knitting in accordance with the Dalecarlia traditions. I later found the exact same pattern in a book about Estonian mittens.

I used about 180 grams of 2-ply, z-plied yarn from Wålstedt and dbpns 2.00 mm.