How do you find the perfect model for a knitting book? I knew I wanted at least a couple of dancers if not four. I started by asking designer friends and then all my other friends.
Anna is a 17 year old dance student and one of four models chosen for my book. I found her details at my publishing house, Cappelen Damm. This fantastic picture is taken by her mum, Guri Pfeifer, who is a talented photographer (see under blogroll) Anna is wearing one of the sweaters I have designed and which is featured in my book due out late January. It is knitted in Jaggerspun Zephyr Lace, a lustrous blend of tussah silk and merino, held double. A sneak peak will appear soon! Anna is the youngest of the four models chosen.
High on the list of places to visit while in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, hot springs, located approximately 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik. A body massage which takes place in the water, was a must according to a good friend of mine. Take any appointment you can have, was the advice. And yes, I did follow it. www.bluelagoon.com
From quite a distance to the Blue Lagoon you can spot the steam, among all the volcanic stones covered in moss. It has a scenic beauty that takes your breath away. With only a few degrees above 0, you do not feel the cold due to the warm geothermal seawater holding a constant 37-39°C / 98-102°F. The composition of minerals in the water is very distinctive and has a high level of silica, which is available in wooden boxes around the Lagoon. It cleanses and exfoliates your skin and you are recommended to leave it on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes. People with scary white faces, covered in Silica mud, appears out of the steam constantly while you move around in the Lagoon.
A small part of the Lagoon is reserved for treatments and massages. A tag gave me the access to it. While I was waiting for my masseur, an Asian woman I thought in my ignorance, a blond bodybuilder of an Icelandic man appeared. He was indeed my masseur and had very strong hands. Floating in the mineral-rich water, on a yoga mat, surrounded by the natural elements and pure Icelandic air, was a unique experience for body and mind. While my body was swirling slowly around in the lagoon, I was watching the blue sky and the steam surrounding me, I could feel my tensions float away, just as my mind did. My advice is take any appointment for a massage you can have. You will not regret it…
I prepared for my trip to Iceland as all knitters do by searching for yarn shops on the internet. To my delight I found Knitting Iceland, a miniature knitting kingdom filled with excursions, workshops, an online shop and a knit cafe: Iceland a place for knitters… Well worth checking out, so I contacted Ragga the founder by e-mail and set up a meeting. While I was waiting for her, I had to familiarize myself with the place. I found the notification that she had indeed adopted a sheep, a large selection of Icelandic yarn Lopi in different thicknesses and colours, tons of knitting magazines (like we all do have) and her DVD. Ragga kindly offered me a copy of her ‘Knit your own Lopapeysa’, which shows you her adopted sheep, how it is sheared, how the yarn is dyed at Istex and made ready to knit with, and of course how to knit a typical Icelandic sweater along with Ragga’s modern technical twists.
The DVD is such a delight. It gives you an insight into her knitting life and the opportunity to learn some great new techniques. I love seeing all the Icelanders she has captured wearing their sweaters at the supermarket as well as how Ragga treats her friends to waffles, that look just like the Norwegian ones do. It can be bought from her web store www.knittingiceland.is
One of next year tours, organized by Knitting Iceland, is Knit to the Music with guest tutor Cookie A, a very talented sock designer with vast knitting knowledge. So far I have only done one of her workshops, at Knit Nation, called Knitting off the Grid and it was brilliant! Check out her website: www.cookiea.com
One of Knitting Iceland’s partners is the Handknitting Association of Iceland, they have several shops which offer stacks of handknitted Icelandic sweaters, made by their members, as well as a collection of Lopi yarn in different thicknesses. www.handknit.is I was surprised to find a couple of Norwegian brands among the Icelandic ones, both Rauma and Sandnes Garn supplemented with Norwegian patterns were available. Inevitably I had to invest in Icelandic yarn and chose the lace weight Lodband. What I will design with it, remains a mystery, but I will keep you posted…
Arriving in downtown Reykjavik in mid October at 2.30 AM in a traffic jam was a totally new experience to me. It felt like we were part of the cult film 101 Reykjavik, directed by Baltasar Kormákur, filming one of the many party scenes in the film. But then reality kicked in: there was a music festival on, and the whole of Reykjavik seem to be most alive during the evening and throughout the whole night. This picture is taken from the church tower of Hallgrimskirkja, well worth a visit since it displays this lovely view of Reykjavik from above.
Reykjavik feels like the smallest capital ever, so it is ideal to stroll around as long as you are prepared for the fire some wind that wants to lift you off your feet all the time. The numerous trendy designer shops and avantgarde art galleries as well as the stunning nature all over Iceland makes it a trip of a life time. Iceland, vi sees! I recognized a lot of words from Norwegian and we found a lot of young Icelanders keen to speak the Danish they have been taught at school. Long time ago the three languages were one…
In the evening we tested out some of the restaurants and their seafood was delicious. At Fishmarket, www.fiskmarkadurinn.is, I ate giant King Crab Claws, gratinated with chilli mayo, expertly laser-cut so that I could dig in easily. I can only recommend you test it, when you go…My husband and I stayed at the stunning Hotel Borg, surrounded by luxury in Art Deco that opened in 1930, located in the heart of Reykjavik in a square next to the Parliament and the old cathedral. I loved the custom-made plush leather chairs, ideal for resting tired legs. You can find it here http://en.hotelborg.is
Norsk Strikkedesign edited by Margaretha Finseth was first printed in Norwegian in 1999 and there were many of us who wanted our own copy. 11 acknowledged designers participated in the project among them, Iselin Hafseld. I wore the jacket on the cover for my interview at Heimen Husflid in Oslo and was instantly offered a job and a knitting comission if I wanted to make another. But by then I had already made 2 for myself, again in Rauma 3-tråders ull and Finull: one in grey & lilac and another one in orange & brown, so I had no desire to knit a 3. The fairisle pattern repeat is demanding and time-consuming but does make a beautiful jacket I have received a lot of complements for. As responsible for the knitwear section at Heimen I met Iselin Hafseld, designer of Tinde for the first time. Her beautiful machine knitted garments have continued to inspire me since then. Do have a look at her website www.knits.no I chose her as my mentor when I started working on my book, and to this day she has dealt with numerous design and styling issues I needed assistance with. The book is one of my treasures and I have knitted several of the designs and still want to knit more of them…
Per Spook, a former Haute Couture designer with his own fashion house in Paris, designed this sweater for Husfliden (an handicrafts association with stores all over Norway) in 1982. It became a huge success and my first fairisle project. Like a lot of knitters I chose the original yarn and colours used, Rauma 3-tråders strikkegarn. Knitting a tension square to check whether it would fit as it should was not a task I thought was essential, at my inexperienced knowledge level. The result was, as you would expect, not that well fitting at all. It looked like a layer of sausage skin and I could barely move my arms. The lesson of tension learnt the hard way. I was lucky enough that a friend of my mother had a smaller grandchild that desperately wanted just that sweater and bought it off me. It is one of the old patterns I have kept from the 1980s and which I have knitted again, this time double-tapered. The pattern, now a classic, have been re-printed in numerous Norwegian pattern books since its heyday.
Welcome to my blog!
I am very excited to let you know that my first knitting book will be published in Norwegian by Cappelen Damm on the 24.th of January 2012. It contains sophisticated, flattering and fashionable garments knitted in luxurious fibers, inspired by the great designers such as Missoni, Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto, Donna Karan, Laura Biagiotti, Christopher Kane and Ivan Grundahl. An innovative knitting book filled with fitted jackets, oversized sweaters and shawls that can be buttoned up.
Meanwhile, I will tell you more about how I came to love knitting and how the book came to life. Next month I will give you a sneak peak. My mum taught me to knit and has for more than a decade unraveled and fixed my knitting mistakes. Before I finally took the plunge and learnt that I could improve my knitting by solving my own knitting issues. I still remember my first pair of mittens: one for my hand and the other for a giants’ hand! Making a matching pair took me quite awhile to master… And no, I do not have any photos of the pair, it was way too embarrassing. They lived a short sheltered life in my drawer…
As I am sure you understand, it took a long time before I attempted to knit a sweater. It was in the glory days of Mohair, in the 1970’s, that I knitted a stripy sweater in very fashionable pastel colours. Every time I wanted to wear it, I already found it on my brother, who had claimed it as his. Ok, I thought I can knit him one and re-claim the first one. I chose some darker colours for my brother that suits him better like indigo, red and a bright yellow. Did he wear it? Of course not. He preferred the first one and I ended up wearing the second one. The pastel sweater received a second life when it was sent on to my younger cousins, whom – I am sure – loved receiving second-hand clothing. Unlike my brother, they did not form a bond with the sweater but guess who did? Yes, my uncle did. Bless him!