For two perfect spindles

I have this obsession with taking spindles with me when travelling. I have loads of purses, but these two spindles with big whorls haven’t had any earlier. Now they have one!


Square spindle from Michael Williams, Comet from Woolly Designs.  Both are perfectly balanced with long and fast spin.



Tapestry crochet, yarn Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit. Lining polyester, I think. Card woven strap in Mandarin Petit. Old rag rug gifted by a kind neighbour.

I have been spinning also. I started this yarn at a training camp on Ravelry before Tour de Fleece, and finished it a few days ago. Spun on three different light weight spindles and Louet Victoria. Sock yarn, 4-ply, 697 meters, 200 grams, merino and silk. I think for needles 2 mm, but still have to swatch.

Spunnet på bossie, liten spindlewood, victoria. Merino, silke.


It’s a good year for mushrooms. After the long hot and dry period we got rain, and the mushrooms showed in the magic way they always do. In the north they are picking matsutake! We found Russulas and a three different Boletus. No mushrooms for dyeing up there on the cliffs.



I think we should go in that direction…


IMG_2731Aha, buns for me!






Life is good. And Kasper thinks it’s good too. He always gets the last crumb from every meal.

Ostrobothnian textiles

We visited four museums during the Nordic Knitting Symposium 2014. The first one was Myrbergsgården, one of the museums in my municipality:


There are 17 buildings on the grounds. The museum is known for its large textile collection with more than 5000 items. It has an especially large collection of embroidery, as many women earned their living by selling embroidery at the beginning of the 20th century. There’s also lots of crocheted lace for bed linen, knitted socks and other garments. This is my favourite closet in the musum:


You all know how difficult stripes are! Susanne Hansson taught a class in designing and knitting jogless stripes at the Symposium. This closet with its bolster-cases was much admired!

The next museum was Stundars, where I use to spin in the summers. I didn’t take any photos, so lets go on to the municipality Malax and have a look at Brinkens Museum, where the staff had displayed knitted socks, hats, mittens, sweaters, and more.


Yes, the winters in Finland are cold! You really need warm clothes. Why not make them pretty even if you can’t see them under the pants and skirts? You can at least see a glimpse of a beautiful sock when the women lift their skirts to step over a threshold or climb the stairs!


The Malax sweater is knitted from rather thick yarn in the Finnsheep’s natural colours.


Knitted and crocheted hats and mittens, and a small bag:


Mittens and gloves with influences from Norway. The big mittens have human hair knitted into them for stronger wear. They also resist water well.


A knitted and crocheted underskirt that was popular all over Ostrobothnia at the beginning of the 20th century:


I feel tempted to make one myself…

This is one of the small bed chambers with it’s nicely made bed. This way of using crocheted lace was common in many places. I like it, but being a person who allows the dogs to sleep in my bed I don’t find it very practical :) The carpet has a stripe called the “Malax stripe”: there has to be a black stripe in the middle. The rag rugs often covered the whole floor in the winter to prevent draught.


There was much more to see at Brinken, but let’s go on to the museum in Korsnäs. In this small municipality an amazing sweater was designed in the 19th century. It’s unique, as it’s partly crocheted and partly knitted. The women also developed a way of knitting where as many as four knitters work on the same sweater together, sitting in a circle, each knitting her own row and advancing in the same speed as the others. When we visited Korsnäs there were three knitters at work:


The crocheted parts must be made by one person at a time:


The Korsnäs sweater used to be a man’s sweater, but nowadays it’s used by both men and women. It’s often made into a cardigan now, as it’s easier to wear that way.


I want to show Gretel Dahlberg, who researched and wrote a book about the Korsnäs sweater that was published in 1987, “Korsnäströjor förr och nu”. If you want to purchase it, please contact the museum.


Also Korsnäs museum has a collection of crocheted lace:


But most of all they crocheted the parts for the sweaters, and suspenders, purses, even reins for the horses.



The reins where used when going to church in one of the fancy sleighs and chaises, painted in bright colours. These are from Myrbergsgården:


There are astonishingly many textiles in the small museums in Ostrobothnia. You also get to see them, which is not always possible in the big museums. It’s usually possible to get a private showing if you contact the museum first. They are not open in the winters, as they aren’t heated. From late May to the end of August most of them are open at least in the weekends. Many of them have small special exhibition, like Korsnäs Museum, where there is a seal hunting room in the attic. For spinners: Myrbergsgården has its spinning treasures in two of the attics: wheels, lazy kates, skein winders. There is also a smithy that is still in use once in a while.

Brinkens museum has a beautiful flower garden. Let’s end with the fox gloves and a view from a window:




Two-end knitting and crochet

I took a class in intermediate two-end knitting for Karin Kahnlund, one of the skilled Swedish knitters and teachers in this intricate technique. You may know it as “twined knitting”, a term that is also frequently used. It’s called “tvåändsstickning” in Swedish. The technique hasn’t been widely known outside the areas in Sweden where it has been practised for hundreds of years. It’s still an unknown way of knitting for most knitters. I first learned how to do it at the beginning of the 21th century, when I was able to attend a class with Marianne Wasberg. She’s the one sitting in the wheel chair here in our class at the Symposium:


I somehow managed not to take a photo of our pleasant and skilled teacher. I did take photos of her mittens, but as she doesn’t want them to be published I can’t show them. Karin has made very beautiful knitted mittens and sleeves, as you can see from the few photos on her site.

I may show Karin’s swatch that we started knitting in the class:

Provlapp i Karin Kahnlunds fortsättningskurs

My swatch is still to be finished. I frogged the first one and started all over. After several hours of knitting I’ve come this far:


I wanted to show the wrong side, because it’s different from how you usually knit stranded knitting and fair isle. Every stitch is bound or twisted, and you throw the yarns. The continental way of knitting doesn’t work in two-end knitting. I’m pleased with the swatch as it looks now compared to the one I first started knitting. You have to knit firm, otherwise the patterns won’t look nice. In this exercise you learn how many threads you need to use in each pattern, and how they are bound and twisted.

In two-end knitting you use Z-twist yarns, so now I have a new challenge in my spinning. For some reason I find it much more difficult to spin S than Z. I think it has to do with very small changes in how you use your muscles in your drafting hand. So, the way to cope with that is to spin more S-twist singles to train your muscles! We use Z-twisted yarns because S-twisted tend to loose rather much twist in this technique. This is of course, as so often when it comes to textiles, a matter of “it depends”. Your personal way of knitting, how you keep your yarns in your hands, how you pick the stitches or throw your yarns, whether you’re right handed or left handed, all this affect the yarns and how your knitting looks. So, test different ways and decide for yourself how you want to do it.

I also got engaged as a teacher at the Symposium, and found myself having promised to teach tapestry crochet at a knitting symposium. To my surprise my class was quite popular, so I ended up with more students than I had promised to take. It was a bit crowded in one of the classes, but we managed even if my legs still are covered with bruises from the table and chairs I had to round each time I wanted to show someone what to do :) I chose the traditional Ostrobothnian way to crochet this technique. My students learned the basics and some of them were able to finish the round, flat bottom of a purse. At least one of them had finished the sides of her purse the following morning! This is a photo I took while working with the hand outs for my class:


We also could to listen to some very interesting talks during the five days, and we visited several museums and saw some of the beautiful textiles from my region. I met new people, and some that I’ve met earlier in Scotland, Shetland, Finland, Sweden. It was a wonderful five days!

Estonian mittens at the Nordic Knitting Symposium

I took two one-day classes at the Nordic Knitting Symposium 2014: the first one on how to knit cuffs for Estonian mittens. I have knitted Estonian mittens and socks in the “Nancy Bush-way”, and they are lovely. Nancy’s patterns are adapted from Estonian tradition, and with great care to not do violence to the Estonian tradition, but to suite knitters not used to the extremely fine knitting in most of the original textiles, and leaving the most difficult techniques out.

Knitting in the traditional Estonian way is something else. It’s not unusual to have up to 200 stitches per round in a pair of men’s mittens. Needle sizes go from 0.8 mm to 1.25. The yarn is thin and rather stiff, and the knitting is extremely dense. Most of the items made for weddings have never been used, or used only for a few hours during the feast. They were made to show the bride’s skills.

In the class we learned to knit three different cuffs found in mittens from Muhu island off the west coast of Estonia. Our teacher Kristi Joeste has done lots of research on Estonian mittens, and she also teaches at Tartu University in Viljandi. She has a blog in Estonian with lovely photos. She showed mittens that made us ooooh, and later, when we tried the stretchy cast-on on needles 1.5 mm you could here deep sighs from all these skilled knitters sitting around the table. In the afternoon we had to admit that we felt like beginners again! This is my cuff with fringes on needles 1.5 mm:


I didn’t knit much more than that on any of the three cuffs. It’s slow! There are intricate techniques! But all of it was rewarding, and I believe all of us learned how to do the stretchy cast-on that is common in Estonian mittens.

Kristi Joeste has reconstructed more than 200 pairs of Estonian mittens. Here are some mittens she showed us:



The fringes we learned to knit. These are knitted by Kristi Joeste:


I used needles 2 mm in the first cuff, 1.5 in the second, and 1.25 in the third. I think that was wise, because starting with 1.25 would probably have made me quite unhappy. One of my spinning friends from Sweden took the same class, and we both got very excited. Now we want to find the right kind of wool and spin the thin yarns for a pair or two of these beautiful mittens.

If you like Estonian knitting, keep an eye on Kristi Joestes blog and Facebook site. In the autumn three new books will be published in English, the first one about Estonian knitting techniques, the other two about knitted textiles. I’m very excited about this, and will buy them all. Especially the first one will fill a gap, as there’s very little written about how to knit the mittens and socks. Lot’s of photos have been published, but often with no explanation on how to knit what’s shown in them.

A few views from the delicious table this very silent and concentrated gang of knitters sat around:





Kristi also gave a talk during the symposium. She told us about the vast and interesting textile program they teach at the university in Viljandi, and showed photos of new interpretations of old Estonian textiles. It’s obvious you have to be talented and serious about what you do if you want to study at that university. And I have one more note on my list of places to go to.