söndag 30 augusti 2015

Garter Rib Socks

Garter Rib Socks
I can´t stop knitting socks! This is a pair of socks with a Garter Rib cuff. A very easy way to make something else than the usual *k2,p2* ribbing. I used the standard "Slip 1, Knit 1" for the heel flap, and made, what I think is called, a round toe (in Swedish called "ringintagning").
Garter Rib Cuff
For those of you that want to knit the Garter Rib, this is the chart for knitting in the round. There are many variations of "garter rib" but this is the one that I used.
Garter Rib Chart

måndag 24 augusti 2015

Embroidery in Dala-Floda - Påsöm

Embroidery from Dala-Floda - Påsöm
I have just returned from a course in Dala-Floda. For those of you lucky enough to have experienced the same thing you know how difficult it is to put such an experience into words. It is a privilege to have Anna-Karin Jobs Arnberg guide you through the traditions of Påsöm, the traditional embroidery in Dala-Floda.
Embroidery from Dala-Floda - Påsöm
The four day course compassed the history, traditions, stitches, patterns,  designs and techniques and was just fantastic. We also covered ways of making and adding different fringes. We were 16 participants and we were all sad to leave on the last day.
Embroidery from Dala-Floda - Påsöm
Anna-Karin generously let us study and handle the old items from the collections of Dala-Floda. It is a bit overwhelming to face this treasure of embroidery. The skill and inventiveness contained in the material is staggering.
Wålstedt shop
We made a visit to Wålstedt and were guided through the process of making yarn. The guided tour began with sorting the wool and ended with the finished yarn. It was a very educational experience, and I do admire the engagement that the owners Sonia and Roger have, giving it all to maintain the tradition of making a very exceptional yarn.
We made a visit to a "fäbod", that is a mountain pasture where, in the old times, the cattle was taken for grazing during the summer. We were guided by Lill-Karin. Her story-telling is hilarious and we  were given a very entertaining time. Upon arrival to the "fäbod" we were served lunch, catered and served by Dala-Floda Inn. Superb!
Floda Hemslöjd/ The local Arts and Crafts shop
Floda Hemslöjd is close by, so of course we visited and shopping took place :-)
Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn
These fantastic days of wool and embroidery were enhanced by the stay at Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn. The food was exceptional (as always) and the kindness and generosity of the hosts Evalotta and Per makes every stay  something special. For sure, this was not my last visit to Dala-Floda. More information on Dala-Floda Värdshus can be found here: English / Swedish.
Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn
If you want to read my earlier posts about courses in Dala-Floda just write "Dala-Floda" in the field "Search this blog" to the right, and you will find them all.
Some of the participants samplers from Day 1.
Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn
Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn
Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn

Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn
Dala-Floda Värdshus / Dala-Floda Inn
Flo-sjön / The lake Flo
The road to the mountain pasture

tisdag 18 augusti 2015

10 pairs of Ragg Socks

The weather this summer gave me a lot of time for knitting. Since I wanted a project that also allowed me to watch TV and listen to music I began knitting socks. The rainy weather persisted and I realised that I was in for a lot of knitting. I had read on the internet that Stockholm City Mission (Stadsmissionen) had a shortage of knitted mittens and socks for men. So I decided that my summer knitting project was to knit ten pairs of men´s socks. And now I am done!
I thought that I might end up bored with knitting so many socks, but discovered that this project was perfect for trying things that I usually do not do when I knit socks.
I tried new patterns and techniques for the cuff, heel flap, heel turn and toe decreases. I learned a lot and also found that there are many ways to knit socks. I have knitted my basic socks the same way since childhood (as I was taught by my mother). It was time for an update!
All in all I used more than 2 kilos (2000 grams) of sock yarn. I used a rather thick 4-ply yarn, in Swedish it is called "raggsocksgarn". The socks are knitted with five double-pointed needles and I often used 4.00 mm needles for the cuff and 4,50 mm needles for the foot.
For those of you who live in Sweden and would like to knit for the less fortunate, I recommend visiting Hjälpstickan.
To avoid second sock syndrome I knitted all socks in pairs and both socks at the same time. In my opinion the safest way for socks as well as for mittens. This method ensures that each part on both socks (mittens) is knitted in the same way, size and tension.

söndag 16 augusti 2015

Wool market - Ullmarknad, Stallbacken, Österbybruk

Österbybruk Wool Market
We spent a day visiting the Wool market at Österbybruk, an event arranged yearly by Upplandsmuseet. It was our first time visiting and we were impressed with the arrangement and the surroundings.
Österbybruk Mansion
The wool market is housed at the stables belonging to the Österbybruk Mansion. There is ample space and that makes for an ideal spot for the event.
The Stables
You could buy wool, yarn, tools connected with wool in any way, form or shape you could also attend workshops. You could also try out techniques such as spinning, weaving, twined-knitting, crochet and nalbinding.
The weather was perfect and there were many visitors but not to much crowding (it is a big space).
There were many inspiring things to see and the day passed quickly. We went by bus and left after four hours due to the sparse intervals on weekends. Next year we will try to find a way to stay longer.
A visit to the Mansion would surely be worth while, and more time for the surroundings would also be nice.
Of course I did not leave empty-handed. I found hooks for Shepherd´s knitting (in Swedish smygmaskvirkning) and a tool for darning and also some yarn, 2-ply from the breed Gotlands Pälsull.
Hooks for Shepherd´s knitting (smygmaskvirkning)

Tool for darning socks
2-ply yarn from the breed Gotlands Pälsull

lördag 1 augusti 2015

Riga, Latvia - from a knitter's perspective

Mother Latvia, Freedom Monument
We have recently spent a couple of days in Riga. Most of our time was spent in the Old Town, but we also saw some of the other parts of the city. Riga has a lot to offer and I do recommend a visit. Our hotel was situated in the Old Town and that was very convenient since we had walking distance to almost every part of town. I didn't visit Riga to make a complete inventory of "knitting-spots", but since we saw quite a lot of them I thought it worth sharing on my blog. This is a long post! To facilitate for the reader I have made an index:

1. Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum
2. Sena Klets - The National Costume Centre
3. Tines
4. Hobbywool
5. Riga Central Market
6. Etmo
7. Yarn
8. Books
9. Gift Shops
10. Riga Art Space
11. Art Noveau/Jugend
12. Art Café Sienna
Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum
1. Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum
One of the places that we had decided to visit was the Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum (Latvijas Etnogrāfiskajā brīvdabas muzejā, Brivibas Iela 440). The weather in Sweden has been wet and cold all summer, so when we were pleasantly surprised with a nice and sunny day in Riga, we took bus no 1 from the city centre to the Open Air Museum.
The Open Air Museum is huge, and we saw only part of it during the hours we spent there. It is well worth a visit.
There were surprisingly few visitors and we could enjoy the the houses and the surroundings without crowding. We also visited the Museum's gift-shop. The shop offers lots of handicrafts, mostly knitted (mittens and socks) or woven (bands, belts, blankets and shawls), and of course items of amber.
The Museum's Gift Shop
Woven bands (wool and linen)
Woven band from Vidzeme
Hand knitted socks

2. Sena Klets - The National Costume Centre

Sena Klets - The National Costume Centre / Tautas tērpu centrā SENĀ KLĒTS  is not to be missed when visiting Riga. It is situated on Rātslaukums 1 / Mazā Jauniela. 
Exhibition of Latvian mittens at Sena Klets
I guess that many of you have heard about, or have bought, Maruta Grasmane's book "Latvieša cimdi". Sena Klets have an exhibition showing all the mittens knitted and photographed for the book. It is a visually staggering and very impressive exhibition. Of all the mittens that we saw in Riga I would say that these were the most well knitted ones. Fantastic!!!
Band from Latgale
Sena Klets also sells hand-woven bands belonging to different regional costumes. This one from Latgale was so impressive that I had to buy it. It is so well woven and the patterns and colours are just amazing.
There were also hand-knitted mittens for sale at Sena Klets.
Sena Klets has two entrances. Just outside the entrance from Jaunavu iela there are also some trade stands that sell traditional crafts. You will find mittens, bands, wood-work and other items.
Jaunavu iela

3. Tines

Tines on Riharda Vagnera Iela
Tines is a shop situated on Riharda Vagnera iela 5, which sells Latvian hand-knitted art work. We found this shop by chance since it is almost round the corner from the hotel where we were staying. We had a nice chat with the young woman who worked in the shop. She told us about the "explosion" of interest for the old Latvian ethnographic symbols and knitted items among young Latvians the last years. Everyone wants a scarf or mittens or hats. It has become an important statement to wear these items. 
Mittens on display in Tines shop
I asked if that meant that there was also a growing interest among the young to learn how knit these patterns. She answered that, alas, knitting the old patterns were time consuming and difficult and there was no interest among the young to learn how to do it. She also said that the mittens in the shop were knitted by old women and that she was afraid that in 10-20 years time there would be very hard to find knitters who could carry on the Latvian traditions. I remember hearing the same thing being described when we were in Tallinn and it makes me so sad.
Mittens bought at Tines shop
Many of the mittens in the shop have a sticker on them that says "Lovingly hand-knit by Latvian grandmothers".

4. Hobbywool

Hobbywool  on Maza Pils iela 6  was the only shop in Riga that I had heard about before visiting. It is a shop that has a more "modern" feel, and I didn't find it that interesting. But that is just my opinion, and I still think that if you visit Riga you should see it. They have all the "kits" for "Knit like a Latvian" and they also sell yarn. They also had mittens for sale, but most of them were machine-knitted.
Latvian yarn at Hobbywool

5. Riga Central Market

Riga Central Market
Riga Central Market / Rīgas Centrāltirgus is found at  Centrāltirgus iela 1. 
I had heard that there were some stalls worth visiting at the Central market in Riga - there would be mittens! The Central Market opened in the 1930's and was then the largest marketplace in Europe. It has over 3000 trade stands and is visited by 80-100 thousand people a day.  It is housed in giant pavilions from WWI, that were used for housing Zeppelins - very impressive.  Inside there are lots of meat, fish, vegetables and so on. Outside there is a mix of trade stands and I guess you could buy almost anything here. We found a few stands that sold knitted mittens, hats and leg-warmers, all of them machine knitted and not of a particularly good quality - but the patterns are nice to look at. 
The Central Market - Stand
We found one stand that sold yarn, 100 % wool. The lady in the stall said that it was Latvian wool, but did not know where it was spun. She was very averse, and there was no doubt that she did not like to have two men showing an interest in the yarn at her stand. She finally, and very reluctantly, allowed me to buy two skeins in natural greys. I guess that it was an equally uncomfortably experience for both parts in that transaction. A pity.

Riga Central Market is well worth a visit - but not for the knitting.

6. Etmo

Etmo on Arsenala iela 7, is a shop that sells crafted items (linen, wool and ceramics) with modern design based on Latvian traditions. It is a very small shop and when we visited they had woven shawls and place-mats and some knitted items among other things. We bought some woven linen place-mats.  A very small shop but the quality of the things that we saw was good. I include this in my post since it is close to Hobbywool.
7. Yarn

I guess this is what you all have been waiting for: Where do you buy yarn in Riga? To be frank, I had not intended to buy any yarn in Riga. We were flying Economy Class and were restricted to hand-luggage only. So, of course I bought yarn!

Tines, on Riharda Vagnera iela 5. They sell their own brand of Latvian yarn, 100 % wool. Made to be used for knitting Latvian mittens and other traditional items. They ship world-wide. www.tines.lv/en/

Sena Klets on Rātslaukums 1, sells Latvian yarn for knitting Latvian mittens. No web-shop.  www.senaklets.lv 

Hobbywool  on Maza Pils iela 6 sells yarn. Mostly Rowan and Latvian yarns. http://www.hobbywool.com/en/intro

Riga Central Market on Centrāltirgus iela 1. You can find the occasional stands that sell wool. Perhaps they are more common during the winterseason?

8. Books

We knew nothing about bookshops in Riga so we have probably missed most of them. We didn't actively search for them. This is what we happened to learn during out stay:

Sena Klets on Rātslaukums 1, sell a few books on knitting and band weaving.

Valters un Rapa, Aspazijas bulvāris 24. Bookshop with a small craft section. They have the most recent books on knitting and other Latvian crafts.

Janis Roze, Galerija Centrs. Bookshop with a small craft section. They have the most recent books on knitting and other Latvian crafts.

Zvaigznes Gramatnica, Valnu Iela , Book outlet store. We found almost the same books here as in the other book stores. Well worth a visit.

9. Gift shops

There is an abundance of souvenir and gift shops in Riga. All targeting tourists. Here is what we learned:
Stay away from them!

10. Riga Art Space

Riga Art Space on Kungu iela 3 showed the exhibition ”Latvian Soul Patterns” / ”Latviskās dvēseles raksti”. 
There seems to be a great interest in the old Latvian signs and ornaments in Latvia at the moment. These old signs have come to represent something very important for the Latvians and today you can see the signs exposed almost everywhere: Clothing, not only on mittens, hats and scarves but also on wristbands, necklaces and other jewellery; on books about almost any Latvian subject; on purses, bags from shops, wrapping paper, notice book etc; in shop windows, painted on the glass or as part of the display. It goes on and on. If you start looking you will see that they are virtually everywhere.
So, we were lucky to see this exhibition. Unfortunately there was no exhibition book or other information to buy or bring with you from the exhibition. There was not only clothing and costumes featured here. There was also music, folk songs and traditional dancing. There is a revived interest for old Latvian traditions. During the times Latvia was occupied by Soviet and Nazi-Germany (1940-1991), it was of course difficult to uphold Latvian traditions.
The exhibition ends August 23rd 2015. For more information visit: http://www.liveriga.com/en/7668-exhibition-latvian-soul-patterns.

11. Art Noveau/Jugend

Riga has a great heritage when it comes to Art Noveau/Jugend designed buildings. Streets to look for are Alberta, Elizabetes, Antonijas, Strelnieku and Vilandes.

12. Art Café Sienna

Art Café Sienna on Strēlnieku iela 3
There are many nice small cafés and coffee shops in Riga. I had no intention to write about any of them until we by chance visited Art Café Sienna on Strēlnieku iela 3. We were early when visiting the Riga Art Nouveau Museum (Janis Rozentāls and Rūdolfs Blaumanis Museum) Rīgas Jūgendstila muzejs and had 50 minutes to spend before being allowed to enter. We decided to take a walk, and just opposite the Museum we saw this café and walked in expecting nothing out of the ordinary. We were in for a nice surprise. It is a fantastic place. 
Art Café Sienna on Strēlnieku iela 3
It is hard to describe. Visit their web page via this link www.sienna.lv press "Sakt" and you will get a 360 degree view of the café, and you will understand that we were surprised. Their assortment of fine teas, coffee, cognac and champagne is quite expensive, but irresistible. We settled for coffee since it was in the morning. But if I were to go anywhere to get an afternoon coffee or tea with a glass of cognac or champagne to go with it (Nota bene: this is not my usual way of spending my afternoons, but if ...), it would most definitely be at this place. 
Art Café Sienna on Strēlnieku iela 3
Riga was a very nice experience. I do recommend that you make a visit.

Read about visits to:
Tallinn, Estonia (2013)
Vilnius, Lithuania (2016)