Huldran – Mystery KAL

On October 28, 2011, in Huldran, KAL, lace, by Anna

Huldran, or Skogsrået is a seductive temptress in Scandinavian folklore. She is a beautiful woman who lives in the forests, and that tempt young men to follow her into the woods. Seen from the front, she is beautiful, but seen from the back, she has either a tail or a hollow back looking like a rotten tree trunk, depending on the story.

Once upon a time, there was a married man. He went out into the woods to look for some lost cows and he met the huldra. He was tempted and went with her, and spent every evening after that with her. But after some time it was too much for him, quite draining and exhausting, as he could never resist her. He became so exhausted from their trysts, he could barely walk. He did not know what to do. Once when he saw the huldra, she asked what might be troubling him. He answered that he had a problem with one of his bulls – all the bull ever did was to mount the cows and he just wouldn’t stop. By now the bull is completely wiped out. She told him that tibast and vandelrot would do the trick. When the man got home he got some tibast and vandelrot and put it in his pocket. When he went to meet the huldra the next evening she cried out “Tibast and vandelrot is sure; fie on me for telling the cure!” And then she turned around and disappeared. And the man was safe.

The KAL starts on Nov 22 and the shawl pattern will be published in 4 weekly clues on Tuesdays. The cost is CAD $6.00 if ordered now. On Nov 22, the pattern price will increase to the regular pattern price of $8.00.

Huldran is a triangular shawl knit with 1 skein of Serenity Silk from Zen Yarn Garden in Queen Bee or similar colour.



On October 23, 2011, in gloves, Icing, pattern, Seven Fingerless Mittens, by Anna

The October release of fingerless mittens is Icing.  They are pair number five in my collection of Seven Fingerless Mittens – so now there are only two more to come before the end of the year.

These fingerless gloves feature a fitted thumb gusset, and twisted cables. The understated cable starts at the cuff and runs up the back of the hand to the ring finger, decorating the glove like piped icing.

There is a fitted thumb gusset, and the palm of the hand is all stockinette for the sake of comfort.  They are knit in a light fingering yarn, which makes the cable on the back of the hand look very delicate.


One of the best parts of going to shows like Rhinebeck is meeting up with so many fabulous people.  And then there is the people-watching too….. or rather, the constant parade of handknits.  Where else do you go up to a complete stranger and start asking them about what they are wearing?

Heather Dixon of Army of Knitters came to visit at the booth, wearing some of her latest creations.  No pictures of her snogging a polar bear this time…  just Heather and her dress.  I love that dress, by the way.  If only I had more time to knit.  :-)

Kim McBrien from indigodragonfly stopped by as well, and I had a chance to show her the latest design I’m working on in her gorgeous MCN lace.

And then I had the pleasure of seeing some knitters from Ravelry wearing some of my patterns.  Rose-Marie came all the way from Sweden, wearing her Icing gloves.  She helped out as a test-knitter for those very gloves a couple of months ago, and it was a delight to meet her in person.

Lyra did not come from quite as far away, but she was delightful too.  She was wearing her Mystic Midsummer Wreath.

And then there was Valerie, wearing Mystic Waters.  She and her friends were easy to spot because they had all knit the most fabulous Rhinebeck hats.  They were all different, but all adorned with sparkly sequins.  I wish I had a picture of all of them together, but alas….. didn’t have the camera out at the time.

And speaking of shawls….. here’s Shannon Okey wearing her version of Margarita Leaves, knit in a lace weight yarn from Alisha Goes Around.

I also ran into the Ottawa contingent a number of times – here is Genevieve Noel (turtlepurl) and Natalie Servant, along with Stephanie Tallent (who is not from Ottawa, but rather sunny California).  This was at the Ravelry meetup on Saturday.

I saw Gryphon from the Sanguine Gryphon a number of times during the weekend, including at dinner on Saturday, but also working the booth, or just walking around with Lia.  This picture is from the SG booth – not during the peak-times, but it was still rather busy.

Sarah from the Sanguine Gryphon was also around throughout the weekend.  Here is one shot of her in full costume.

And then another one from the dinner that evening of Kate from Dragonfly Fibers, Sarah to the right, and Anne-lise in the corner.

Last, but not least, we have Amy Detjen making funny faces at the camera, while checking out Extreme Double-Knitting.

As I mentioned yesterday, the booth was bustling throughout the weekend, and here’s another shot of the crowds in the Cooperative Press booth.

So needless to say, there were many others who came to see us, and whom I got to visit in their booths or just ran into in the chai line.  Or the pickle line.  Not kidding – while standing in line to buy some NY deli style pickles to take home for the kids, I ran into Galina Khmeleva (the Orenburg lace maven) who told me that this place sold the best pickles outside of Russia.  Since I’ve never been to Russia, I can’t say for certain, but in any case, the pickles are delicious.

All in all – a wonderful weekend, made even better by all the amazing people I met.  I look forward to next year already.


Rhinebeck 2011 – the booth

On October 21, 2011, in Chandoba, festival, Shaping Shawls, by Anna

Last weekend, I and gazillions of other knitters were at Rhinebeck – the New York Sheep & Wool festival.  This year, I was part of the Cooperative Press booth, exhibiting my book, and a number of other new and upcoming Cooperative Press releases.

Most of us Cooperative Press people stayed at a cabin in a nearby state park, so we could get away from the hustle and bustle of the show in the evenings.  It was a cozy little cabin, set in the woods, and absolutely amazing.  This year, the weather was reasonably warm (considering it’s fall in upstate NY), and the fall colours were spectacular.  While it doesn’t show in this picture, the trees ranged from green pines to colourful maples, and the path towards the cabin was glorious with its yellow-orange-red leaves surrounding it.

We set up the booth on Friday and were quite pleased with the end result.

My shawls are all across the top there, and Shaping Shawls on the table.  There are also samples from Big Foot Knits, What Would Madame Defarge Knit, and an upcoming book on men’s socks.   (….and some of Kate’s homemade cookies on the chair to sustain the hungry booth crew)

Once the show started, we really had a steady stream of visitors all weekend.  Here is Kate Atherly talking to some visitors, probably about her upcoming book Beyond Knit & Purl, or perhaps about one of the other titles in the booth.

And here is Heather Ordover from CraftLit and What Would Madame Defarge Knit.

And Stephanie Tallent ready to ring up orders. She was also promoting her upcoming book California Revival Knits, which looked amazing. The sweater is from the book, and I can’t say how many people asked for the pattern.

Alasdair Post-Quinn was signing his new book – Extreme Double Knitting.

And here’s Helene Magnusson of the Icelandic Knitter visiting us, and Shannon Okey (aka the knitgrrl and the owner of Cooperative Press).

At the end of the show, we were all wiped.  Wearing the red sweater is Andi Smith, who was busily promoting her upcoming book Big Foot Knits, and then Heather Ordover is on the chair, and Stefanie Tallent resting on the concrete floor.

At the very end of the show, we disassembled the booth, and I just have to show you this, so you know what we had to work with.

Eeek.  The behind-the-scenes you never want to see.  Ugly breaker boxes and of course cardboard everywhere.  Thanks to some creative decorating and juggling, we actually managed to make this space look fabulous.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us.  Tomorrow I will post about some of the fabulous people I met at Rhinebeck.


Vermont knitting & a winner

On October 12, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Anna

This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, so we had a long weekend.  We decided to head south to Woodstock, VT and rented a house with some friends.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so we got to spend a lot of time outside hiking and also just relaxing.  In the backyard was a pond, and in spite of it being October, the kids went splashing in the pond, and caught water lizards and crayfish.I, on the other hand, was sitting on the deck, knitting, and enjoying the gorgeous view.  On the trip I almost finished one of the shawls for the new book, but it wasn’t bound off until today.  Right now it’s soaking, in preparation of the blocking.  The shawl is knit in Swiss silk lace from Rocky Mountain Dyeworks – one of their new bases.  I don’t even think it’s listed on the site yet, but it should be there well in time for when the book is out (which won’t be until next summer).

Aside from that, I’m trying to get ready for Rhinebeck.  I’ll be leaving tomorrow.  The weather, unfortunately, looks like it won’t be quite as good as in Vermont last weekend.  In fact, it looks like a lot of rain for the next couple of days (which I’m sure will translate to a lot of mud during the festival).  Oh well, it is October after all, so I suppose we can’t expect 25C and sunshine every weekend.

On a completely different note: the almighty random number generator helped me select a winner of Bambeanies.  Birdie – it’s all yours!  Enjoy!



On October 5, 2011, in Brennu-Njál, lace, shawl, by Anna

When I was in university, I discovered that one of the professors in the English department had a course on Icelandic Sagas.  I thought that sounded amazing, but when I started looking in to taking the course, it turned out that it was only offered every other year or so.  I kept checking to see when the course would be offered, and I think it took three years until it was finally available.  Of course I signed up.  Not that it had anything whatsoever to do with what I was actually studying (computer science and electrical engineering), but it sounded like so much fun.

In the class, we read a number of the famous Icelandic sagas, including Njál’s Saga, which (like many of the other sagas) dates back to the 13th century.  The events in the saga take place during the late 10th century and early 11th century.  Year 1,000 was an important year in Icelandic history, as it was the year that the country turned christian, after worshipping the old norse gods.  (And as my professor used to say – not that you have to remember all the years in which something important happened – it can be tricky, but if you can’t remember the year 1,000, you might have a problem….)

Njál’s Saga is one of the great Icelandic sagas and is a story of love and betrayal, honour and revenge.  It describes a blood feud between two families, and the feud carries on for decades.  Eventually Njál is burned alive in his cottage, along with his wife Bergþóra and several other people.  The saga is also known as the saga of Brennu-Njál, which means the story of the burned Njál.  So when I decided to design a shawl based on Njál’s Saga, I wanted to depict the flames during the burning.

The shawl is knit from the top down, and shows small flames near the neck, spreading out to large flames along the bottom edge of the shawl.    It is knit in the finest Icelandic wool – a fine lace weight yarn called Love Story, developed by the Icelandic Knitter.  It is a natural white (sheep) colour, and I gave a little preview back in August (without mentioning the theme of the shawl, of course).  The white makes me think of the white ashes formed by the fire.

The pattern is now available from the Icelandic Knitter.
All photography is © 2011 Hélène Magnússon, The Icelandic Knitter



On October 4, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Anna

When I went to TNNA last june, I had the pleasure of meeting Woolly Wormhead, and got to spend some time chatting with her, and even knitting with her.  Of course she was knitting a hat at the time (out of some amazing Malabrigo yarn we received at the designer’s dinner).  One of the things we talked about was that hats is a handy, portable project that can be used to explore a variety of techniques and textures.  Just like fingerless mittens.  Or shawls.  Woolly has designed lots and lots and lots of hats, in just about any shape imaginable, knit in any which direction.  And I’m sure she’ll come up with even more hats to dazzle us in the future.

During the summer, she published Bambeanies – a collection of 20 hats for children.  They all come in a number of different sizes, and some even work well for adults.  She kindly sent me a copy at the beginning of September, and it is wonderful.  Below, Woolly talks a bit more about the book, hats and design in general.

How did you get started on designing hats?
Hats have always been a fascination for me – I used to wear felted wool berets as a kid to school even though they weren’t part of the uniform (and despite being bullied for wearing them!) I never really knitted Hats at that age though, even though I was knitting. It wasn’t until a number of years later, once I’d finished my Fine Art Textiles degree that I began to experiment, sculpturally, with Hats. And all kinds of Hats, too, at that time.

I’ve always seen Hats as a playground, and I guess it was natural progression to start documenting what I did with the Hats, which in turn led to pattern writing and self publishing.

Why a book on hats for children, specifically?
Well, I figured that having the perfect model right under my feet, so why not?! I love designing Hats for Aran, and I love photographing him, so it seemed like the ideal thing to do. It didn’t though turn out to be as straightforward as I’d originally thought – getting co-operative female models proved a bit of a challenge 😉

We’ve talked a bit about different constructions, and you seem to have hats knit in just about any direction. What are your considerations when determining the direction a new design should be knit in?
What shape I’m trying to achieve, and how the crown should look, are the determining factors in construction and direction of knitting. Sometimes it’s the direction of a stitch pattern which is key, especially if sideways knitting is considered, as a stitch pattern such as cables take on quite different properties when you turn them on their side.

And sometimes I really fancy a change, so I’ll go ahead and deliberately work something that’s knitted in a different direction. Change is good, creatively.

What are the first steps in your design process? Do you start with a yarn and figure out what kind of hat it might like to be? Or do you start with a hat-idea and hunt for the yarn?
A bit of both, I think. Sometimes the yarn knows exactly what it wants to be, and sometimes I’ll be hunting through my stash looking for a yarn that has exactly the qualities that the design needs. I have come to learn which kinds of yarns I like working with, and don’t often stray outside of that realm (hence the Woolly in my name!)

One of my favourite hats from Bambeanies is the Rocketeer, and I had in fact knit one within a day of getting a copy of your book. Can you tell me more about the Rocketeer, and why you designed that hat?
I was intrigued by the sideways construction, and also felt it scaled well to an adult size hat.

Rocketeer is one of my favourites from the book, too. I had seen someone, an adult, wearing a black pixie Hat during one winter, and it reminded me that pixie Hats can be fun, and that I hadn’t made any for ages. Ideas started developing in my head, and knew the one I wanted design was to be knit sideways, as I enjoy the challenge of working with the short rows to shape the crown. I knew it needed to be a pretty chunky yarn, to give it structure, and that it needed some great colours to enhance it’s playfullness. Rocketeer doesn’t bear any resemblance to the one I saw, except for the pixie point, but it serves as a reminder of how randomly some design ideas start!

And finally….. what’s next?
I have a couple of book ideas developing, but right now, a break is needed! I’m attempting to restructure how I work, so I can have better quality time with my family, and keep within a reasonable set of working hours (wish me luck with that one :)

One book that is in progress is a collection of designs, some old, some new, all photographed around a prominent sculpture all about time (it’s actually called ‘The Time Machine’). I have taken many photos of my Hats within this great piece of work, and I thought it would be an interesting project to use this background, the setting, as a theme for the book. But that will be a slow project, I’m in no hurry. And as it is about time itself, it needs time to develop.

Woolly Wormhead has generously offered a PDF copy of Bambeanies to a lucky reader.  If you would like to win, please leave a comment on this post about your favourite knit hat by midnight Oct 10, 2011.  I will select a winner using the almighty random number generator.