Thursday, August 23, 2012


I am still stuck in the seed stitch mines, but took a break to knit a gauge swatch for my next large project.  I couldn't help but be amused at the comparison.

Sakasama Jackets vs. Tough

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shibori Workshop

What do two LYS workers and one LYS owner do on their day off?  Shibori, of course!

I warped my rigid heddle loom the night before, and our new 8 year-old cat, Miles, helped. (Miles came to live with us about a month ago.) Miles loves yarn.

The next day was completely devoted to shibori. It was a long, but very rewarding, day. It has been a long while since I sat down at the loom for five hours straight. Each cloth is plain weave, but with special pull-threads woven into the fabric in different patterns and intervals.  I used a single skein of undyed Treadsoft sock yarn out of my stash - I wanted a superwash wool because I knew at the end of the day it would soak up the dye and give me intense and brilliant colors.

Cloth 1 - full tones - pull floats on both side of fabric

Cloth 2 - half-tones - pull floats on front of fabric
Cloth 3 - free form
Cloth 4 - crimp
whole cloth - from L-R cloths 1-4

We then trimmed off the ends, and using a sewing machine, zig-zag stitched reinforcement threads between each section so we could cut the cloth into individual samples.  Then, SCISSORS, cutting, pulling and tying, until our individual cloths looked like wadded up tissues.

Three of the cloths then took a vinegar bath in preparation for dyeing. And the dyeing! SO. MUCH. FUN!  The dye was applied while the cloth was still wadded up - like a tie-dye process only so much cooler.

Cloth 1 - full tones

Cloth 2 - half tones

Cloth 3 - free form
Cloth 4 was steamed - because it was woven with a polyester weft, the steam set the crimp, and my cloth will permanently look like this:

Cloth 4 - crimped with pleats

Foreground - my cloths. Background - Kathy's cloths.

I love comparing the newly woven samples with their finished dyed selves.  What an amazing transformation.

I have a bit of warp still left of my loom, so I think I will tie it up again and do a few more samples.  I wish I had warped my loom a bit wider so I could have had bigger samples like Kathy's (above), but live and learn!  I had such a great day!

Long Walk

This time of year I often go to the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York, but not this year, sadly. I am missing it, much like one gets homesick from time-to-time.  So I took a long walk with Zeby to see if I could sooth those feelings.

I am still working on my Norway sweater (the sweater I wanted to finish and wear in Norway, HA!) with miles of tiny seed stitch to go. Think good thoughts for my sanity.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trondheim, Norway. August 10-12, 2012

Friday morning P and I left Bergen and flew to Trondheim to stay with friends. It was really great seeing them again - the last time we saw them we all met up in Amsterdam. Friday and Saturday were spent exploring the city, and Sunday I spent in bed with a headcold. P went for a hike with our hosts while I slept and watched Norwegian Olympic coverage on my iPad.

Kristiansten Fortress, Trondheim, Norway

Nidaros Cathedral, largely modern restoration, Trondheim, Norway

Saint James the Greater, modern restoration, Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim

Lion? North Entrance, Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim
Our trip to Norway was lovely, but too short, as usual.  But it was wonderful to get a taste of the country!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bergen, Norway - August 9, 2012

Bergenhus Fortress, Bergen, Norway

Bryggen, Bergen, Norway.

Decorative sculpture over Bryggen doorway, Bergen, Norway.

contemplative P, Bergen, Norway.

Byfjorden, Bergen, Norway.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The state of yarn shops - Bergen

I never know quite what I will find when I head out of the country and in to local yarn shops. Perhaps it is because I am now a more experienced knitter, or perhaps it is because I work at a great yarn shop, but I find it is becoming increasingly hard to be excited about what I find.  I never buy "souvenir" yarn that I can get at home or easily buy on the internet, so with four really well stocked shops in my town, that obviously cuts down on what I am going to buy on vacation.

Bergen, Norway has some beautiful yarn shops, but they all seem to carry the same things.  Here is my summation - make of it what you will.  I made it to four shops that were the most convenient to my hotel and to other touristy things we were doing around Bergen.

Nilssen pa Bryggen
Bryggan 3
First up, Nilssen pa Bryggen, and despite the very obvious (look at the size of that font!) Strikkegarn on the front window, you won't find yarn when you go inside.  You will find lots of very touristy souvenirs, the ubiquitous machine knit Norwegian sweaters, and a few handknit selbu-type mittens.  Go to the back of the shop, look for an arrow pointing down some stairs, and head down into the basement. You will find Dalegarn, Rauma, Sandnes Garn, as well as some others.  The needles I found there were Knitter's Pride as well as what I recognized as Addi Turbos, but sold under a different name with different packaging. (Interestingly with their old metal-colored cables, which makes me wonder if they have EVER sold a needle in the past four years?) Notions were fairly inexpensive here, but nothing was inspiring.

This is probably the easiest shop to get to as a tourist - it is nearly the first building on the touristy Bryggen.  So, my advice is if you need needles or notions, this may be a good place for you.

Norwegian Spirit
Stromgaten 4
Next up is Norwegian Spirit. This will be particularly easy if you arrive by train because the shop is IN the train station.  You can buy beautiful handknit sweaters here - Norwegian in flavor, but contemporary in execution, as well as other handknit goods - especially hats and mittens. The shop carries Garnstudio (Drops), Lang, Dalegarn, Sandnes Garn, Hifa, Rowan and their own Norwegian Spirit. You will find Drops pattern books here, as well as Dale books, and the fashion knitting pattern books that I can't remember the name of now (but be assured they are written in Norwegian).

This shop had by far the greatest selection of different lines.  But since I was only interested in getting something that I couldn't get in the States (and I also did not want to buy yarn that was from Peru, because, I AM IN NORWAY!) I found two skeins of Hika 2 Ullgarn in light and dark grey. These two skeins are 100 grams each, and are destined to be colorwork hats for me and P.

Vaskerelven 15

Modellstrikk was near our hotel (and the art museum where we had an excellent but exorbitant lunch) and it was a lovely shop, stocked deep in each line they carried - I think they had every single color of Dale Baby Ull.  I also saw Garnstudio (Drops), and Sandnes Garn. (seeing a pattern yet?) I saw Drops pattern books and Dale pattern books as well, but that was it.  It was a beautiful little shop, but I didn't feel like it had anything "special" for me.  I bought some darning needles here.

Strandgaten 72
The last shop I visited was Strikkelykke - a beautiful boutique-type shop with an incredibly likeable name.  They carry beautiful yarn as well - can you say it with me? Dalegarn, Garnstudio (Drops), and Sandnes Garn.  Strikkelykke carried lots of colors of the limited yarn they carried, and I saw Dale pattern books as well as Drops pattern books. They had a great needle selection, and a small selection of silk ribbons, and carry-along metallics to spice up a project.  But again, eh, nothing that was particularly different.


So, I have to wonder, how do these shops stay in business?  I walked to all of them in one afternoon, and to my eye (a trained LYS worker, mind you) they carried the same things. Yes, Nillsen pa Bryggen was a step below the other three - and looked like an unrenovated Joann's if it was in a bomb shelter, but I was surprised by the lack of selection. It does make me wonder what the import tariffs are on non-Norwegian yarn, and why there was no handspun, local, or small studio yarn?  Everything is expensive in Norway, so I wonder if the expense of importing plus the expense of trying to do indie-work makes the entire prospect undesirable?  I found the same situation in New Zealand, (I did find more handspun there, but that may be expected because of the Ashford Spinning Wheel factory) and in Amsterdam and Bruges.

When I was doing my research on Bergen I found a shop called Malsen og Mor, which looks very interesting and promising, but it is an online only store. How sad!

I didn't have time to visit shops in Oslo, so I am not sure if there was a little gem of a shop somewhere in the capital. But when I was in Trondheim I visited three shops and all three carried the same yarns.  At this point I was really quite dejected and didn't even bother taking pictures. Yarn isn't hard to find in Norway - but finding yarn that excited me? That would be a great souvenir of Norway? That was a real challenge!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Norway Knitting Industry Museum ~ Norsk Trikotasjemuseum

In researching our trip to Norway I was super excited to see that there was a museum devoted to the knitting industry just outside of Bergen - a town already on our list because of the Fjord tours.  This museum preserves a knitting factory that was established in the 1850s and closed in the late 1980s - all the garments made in the factory were made by machine.  In particular, the factory was famous for making long underwear for Norway's winters.

It was very easy to get there by public transportation since we didn't want the expense or responsibility of renting a car or trying to get a cab.  The website is very helpful for visitors, including good directions on how to get to Salhus by bus. (The bus drivers do speak English, but they may not know about the museum itself - at least in English anyway. Just take the bus into Salhus, then walk away from the stop and around the few shops on the corner. Around the bend and up a hill will be the museum - we followed a bunch of school children.)

I highly recommend watching the 30 minute film before taking the tour. It is all in Norwegian, but has good English subtitles. It covers the history of the factory and includes interviews with some of the former workers.  Then you will be whisked away on the tour (also available in English) that follows the production line of the factory work.

I am only going to post my favorite pictures here - I took A LOT of photographs.  P and I happened to be touring the factory at the same time as a French woman (obviously a knitter) and her husband. I wonder if she has a blog - we took a lot of the same photographs.

Gears for a machine carder creating cakes of unspun fiber

Spinning fiber cakes into single plies on spindles

Loading spindles onto cones

Plying a single into a triple ply

Three yarns enter...

... one yarn leaves

Machine knitting flat - looks like an albino Dr Who scarf

Circular machine knitting - the fabric grows down and pools in the tubs below.

Tiny circular knitting machine to make edgings for collars

Our tour guide and the sock knitting machine.  Socks are made connected to one another.  The blue threads mark where a toe can be serged together, the white thread will dissolve in water.

Bucket o' socks
The program to run the plain ribbed socks
The museum converted an unused portion of the factory into a exhibition space for textile artists. The current exhibit was for some art students at the university in Bergen.  My favorite was by Emma De Kimpe, entitled "De Morgen, donderdag 2 februari 2012" and was machine woven.

Obviously she was working from a newspaper, but I also love how the actual physical requirements of weaving (a long warp) also mirror the printing process and assemblage of newspapers. My photos show details of the same area, so you can see just how abstract the weaving becomes when you look at the piece closely.

The tour then ended in the gift shop, and there are lots of wonderful things you can find there.  There are finished knits you can buy, such as the pillows and scarves below. (The red and black pillow at the left is the local "Salhus" pattern that was a handknit pattern before it became a machine knit one.) There were also kits for mitered square pillows using yarn that was made at the factory - (I bought one of these!) for a respectable 140 NOK (about $23). There were also skeins of yarn you could get (I wish I had picked up some of this - especially in light of my next post) for also an extremely reasonable price.

There were books in Norwegian by Annemor Sundbo that I was thinking about purchasing, but since I can buy them for twice as much in English I guess it wasn't that big a deal. Honestly, am I going to learn Norwegian? (Although if anything will get me to learn a language it will be knitting.) So, yes, Annemor Sundbo books are now on the top of my wish list.

This was a great half-day trip!  P really enjoyed himself (as, I believe, did the husband of the other knitter on the tour) and asked a lot of questions. I hope this museum sees a lot of visitors coming - and I hope this blog post will encourage you to go if you are headed to the Bergen area.