Kari-Anne Næssø came like a whirlwind into my life, when I was desperate for a model for the photo shoot on a Friday in September. I had several ballerinas that could work on the weekend but none that could work on a Friday, during the daytime. My editor, Inger Margrethe Karlsen at Cappelen Damm came to my assistance and suggested Kari-Anne who is an artist with a dancers’ degree, and in her forties, to my delight! Kari-Anne’s blond Norwegian looks completed my preferred wide age and hair range. When we took our lunch break at the fashionable Bølgen & Moi at Tjuvholmen, Kari-Anne was the only one dressed for the part in full make-up, hair beautifully pinned into a bun and wearing styled clothes. See www.kanart.no
Here is a list of my favorite yarn shops in Oslo:
NØSTET MITT at Storo Shopping Centre, take the Kjelsås tram or the tube there, approx 15 min from the city centre, www.nostetmitt.no They have a large selection of Rowan yarns, Artesano and Norwegian brands such as Du Store Alpakka and Sandnes. A popular fairly new yarn chain that organises events and knit cafes.
All the next 5 yarn shops are in walking distance, but the distance between Tjorven and Husfliden will take you approximately 15 min to walk. You will pass nearly all the best shops in Oslo and is a very nice walk, down Bogstadveien!
My preferred route:
1. TJORVEN, Valkyriegata 17, Majorstuen. Take the tube or tram up (see kart.finn.no ) The largest selection in Oslo with an international selection of yarns, e.g Art Yarns, BC Garn and Katia, you will find them listed under ‘leverandører’ on their website www.tjorven.no One of my favourites is Du Store Alpakka’s lovely Tynn Alpaca (4-ply, 167 m per 50 g knits on 3 mm/US 2-3, tension 27 sts) in melange colours! Until the end of the year Tjorven has an offer of 25% discount on all yarns with alpaca from Drops! So stock up while you can!
2. HUSFLIDEN, inside the department store Glasmagasinet, Stortorvet 9. Walk down Bogstadveien, through the Slottsparken, down the main street Karl Johan. They have a large selection of traditional yarns in lots of colours for knitting & crocheting, embrodery, weaving and rye making. They stock Rauma, PT, Dale and Borg among others. I love Rauma: Lamullgarn (lambswool) and Finull (fine wool, 175 m per 50 g knits on a 3 mm/ US 2-3, tension 26 sts), which comes in a 100 colours. The Lamullgarn, 250 m per 50 g usually knit on a 2.5 mm/US 1-2 with a tension of 30 sts, felts like a dream. Below is a photo of a felted swatch, knitted with 2 blue tones on a 4 mm/US 6 and felted using a 60°C /140°F programme in the washing machine. Yes, they do sell shade cards if you are tempted. Still my favourite to browse in and where I tend to buy! You can see their yarns on www.husfliden.no
3. STRIKKEDILLA, Oslo City, ground floor (shopping centre next to the Central Train Station) Tiny shop, but a good selection of mainly Norwegian yarns. www.strikkedilla.no
4. BOGERUD TEKSTIL, Gunerius, first floor (old fashioned department store) on Storgata, 5 minutes from Oslo City. This is were you go to buy yarns and clothes, especially underwear & socks, if you have a tight budget and/or knit a lot for growing children. Among their stockists are Norwegian yarn producer Gjestal and Viking. My mum’s favourite. www.bogerud.no
I never miss out on a visit to Tjorven nor Husfliden but tend to skip the last two so if you are short of time… Do not miss NORWAY DESIGNS, www.norwaydesigns.no close to Saga cinema by the National Theatre station. It is one of my favourite shops in Oslo and a visit there is elementary! Check out their large paper department, ultra modern kitchen section and trendy clothes department. The photo is of their Christmas table. It is an inspirational shop with great designs!
I wanted to share this popular Christmas event with you all, a successful attempt to build the world longest gingerbread train at Oslo Central Train station. It was 4 tracks wide with a total of 617 carriages and measured 206 meters, a new world record according to Guinness World Records. The decoration of ready made coaches has been mainly done by kindergarden children but also by other people, with a large number of commuters whom have lost several trains in their attempt to decorate the perfect carriage. Half of the train will be given to the charity Alternative Christmas, who organises Christmas dinners for the homeless in the Oslo area, while the remainder will be divided among the city’s hospitals.
It is a common event in Norway, especially if you have children, to make a gingerbread house. Each year the house needs to be even better, and as you can imagine the architecture students usually organise their own competition. The decorating sweets usually ‘disappear’ during Christmas and some inventive people, like my friend Mette, organises a demolition party after Christmas where the children get a plastic hammer each! Sounds fun to me!
If you do not have time to make the dough yourself, there is help at hand, you can buy it ready made and among the most popular ones is the one bought at Åpent Bakeri. Unique because their philosophy is to bake by hand, using less machines compared to the rest of the bakeries. See how their bakers work at night at www.apentbakeri.no Their ‘pepperkaker’ tastes delicious, and here is their recipe by popular demand:
- 250 g butter
- 150 g syrup
- 400 g sugar
- 130 g whipping cream
- 6 g cloves
- 7 g cinnamon
- 850 g plain flour
- 12 g bicarbonate soda
- 1/4 dl water
- 1 egg.
Method: Mix butter, syrup and sugar in a pot. Heat until sugar is completely melted. Let it cool slightly. Add cream and the egg. Mix bicarbonate soda in the water and add in.
Sift in spices and most of the flour. Stir until it forms a stiff dough. Leave in the fridge over night. Then need with rest of flour and roll out about 3mm thick. Use cookie cutters (or more traditionally, just a knife to make shapes). Place on baking sheet on oven tray and bake at 175 C until golden brown (about 10 mins). Cool cookies before decorating.
Tip: Dip cookie cutters in flour first so the cookie mixture doesn’t stick. If you want to hang your pepperkake on the Christmas tree make a good hole in the dough of each cookie before cooking – a pen cylinder does just the trick. Enjoy!
I wish you all a Merry Christmas! God Jul!
Here is a small selection of swatches I made in preparation for designing garments for my book. I love knitting cables and my favorite yarn for making any aran garment is Mostly Merino Lightweight Yarn, made of 77% merino/fine wool and 23% mohair (56 g/ 2 oz, 228 m/250 yds) because it creates sculptural cables with a lot of give to them. See www.mostlymerino.com
This swatch is knitted with a rich red called October, chosen among 29 hand-dyed colours available, on 3mm/US 2-3. These cables are used together with a woven cable and a large basket pattern in an Aran Bolero with a belt, the garment chosen to be on the cover. Soon to be released, I hope.
Tencel is another favourite yarn I have discovered, fairly recently, made of cellulose and is a newer version of rayon. It has a fabulous drape and shine in addition to feeling like wearing silk, but unlike silk it can be pulled into shape and hides all unevenness. This is WEBS’s own Valley Yarn Tencel 8/2, (453 g/1 lb cone, approx. 3072m/3360 yds) knitted double on a 3mm/US 2-3. See www.yarn.com
The swatch below shows it in Taupe and the pattern chosen is called Alternated Twists, which creates an intricate cross effect and look a lot more complicated than it is to knit. I have designed a cross over jacket in this pattern.
Huldra Kamgarn from Hifa, made of Norwegian wool, comes in a huge selection of beautiful clear colours (82 in total) which has a beautiful stitch definition. It is made of 100 % wool, knits on a 3mm/US 2-3, and comes on 200 g/0.4 lb cones (850 m/929 yds) See www.ull.no
I chose this dropped stitch pattern, created by Lynne Barr – see her stunning book Reversible Knitting – for a Japanese inspired Vest that has only 1 armhole, large enough to fit both arms, which can be used loose and long or pinned up with a shawl pin.
Another swatch knitted in Mostly Merino Lightweight yarn, in a rich Granite colour, in a pleat pattern that creates an added dimension in knitwear. The swatch looks like it has been felted, but it has only been lightly steamed and stretched. I have designed a cropped cardigan using this stitch pattern and a scarf collar knitted in a cabled rib cord pattern. I hope to show you pictures taken by book photographer Kim Müller soon…
Professional make-up and hair styling was a priority for my book, since I wanted hairdressing and make-up for different occasions well fitted to the knitted garments. After exhausting all my contacts and asking all the make-up artists I had contacted for their further recommendations without success. I remembered how stunning my sister-in-law looked on her wedding day and asked about her make-up artist. Line Sekkingstad Sigberg works for NRK (Norwegian State Television) and teaches at the Tone Lise Academy, which educates Beauticians and Make-up Artists, and started her career as a hairdresser. Line agreed to participate in my project, albeit at a reduced rate, since it was an exciting project and the styling was well planned. Above you can see a photo from one of her earlier projects, see www.linesekkingstad.com
I had prepared an outline of what I wanted her to do. Each look had a series of photographs to go with it:
- Natural look: where Anna is wearing oversized sweaters and shawls by Nøklevann, in Marka (a lake in the forest that surrounds Oslo).
- Vintage look: where Anna and Francesca are wearing either a fitted party sweater, by Nøklevann, or jackets with puffed sleeves at the Ekeberg Restaurant, high on the hill overlooking Oslo.
- Party look: where Francesca has her amazing waist long hair in a beautiful bun wearing knitted jackets and a tutu at the Ekeberg Restaurant. Plus where Kari-Anne has her Norwegian blond hair in a bun wearing a knitted skirt at Aker Brygge, with a background view of the Oslo Fjord.
- Ballerina look: where Cristiane has her beautiful hair in a tight bun, wearing an old Swan Lake tutu and pointe shoes, at the Architectural Museum.
- Smoky eyes: where both Francesca and Cristiane are wearing grey or black garments against the concrete wall surroundings at the Architectural Museum.
Line did a magnificent job, using her vast artistic hair and make-up skills, and I look forward to showing you the result shortly.
From the very beginning, I wanted professional dancers with their total body awareness as models for my hand knitting book. Their elegance, pose and superb posture has attracted me from my childhood days. The last few years we have seen the inspiration and athleticism they bring to fashion. After searching in both London and Oslo I received positive response from both Francesca Golfetto and Cristiane Sá, from the National Ballet in Oslo, they gave my book an extra dimension. See www.operaen.no
Francesca took us by storm, with her waist long dark hair and long lashes, and stopped all activity around us at Aker Brygge (a quay by the Oslo Fjord), on a sunny Friday afternoon in early September, while Kim Müller, photographed her. Take another look at the photo above and you’ll understand what I mean.
After several years working as a PR consultant for architectural firms, I decided it was time to find a job related to my hobby, read obsession of, knitting. I found an ad in an Rowan Magazine where they advertised for Design Consultants. Luckily, I was called in for an interview and spent the next few days memorizing english knitting terms and abbreviations since I, at that time, only knew all the Norwegian ones. Well, I did get the job, first at Peter Jones department store in London, and no they did not ask me to list all the english knitting abbreviations!
During my time as Design Consultant, both at Peter Jones and John Lewis department stores, where I assisted customers, on yarn choice and pattern, and professional designers tutoring workshops, I developed my knitting technical expertise. With access to shade cards, free Rowan magazines and a direct line to the design department, I was close to ecstasy. The love I have for shade cards has only increased with time.
It is a great idea to order a shadecard first to see the real colour, always together with a magazine or some sample yarn to maximize the postage cost, before you order online. Most yarn producers have these for sale, especially in yarns with numerous colours like e.g. Spindrift (180 colours) made by Jamieson, www.jamiesonsofshetland.co.uk and they are beautiful just to look at.
Professional finishing, was a workshop tutored by Jane Crowfoot, see blogroll Janie Crow, and taught me a lot of new techniques and good tips I have later given to knitters attending my workshop, with the same name, at Loop. A few key tips are:
- Knit both sleeves at the same time on a circular needle. Cast on for one with one ball and pull them onto the cord, with a new ball cast on for the second one. When you need to increase you do it on both of them on the same row.
- Sew up as you go along: if you are making a sweater, join a shoulder when the back and the front is finished. You can pick up for the neck as well as work on the sleeves at the same time. It makes it a lot more exciting to finish your garment and minimizes the time spent of finishing at the end.
- Sew up stitch by stitch. Think about how you knitted it and that is how you should sew it up. What stitch you use does not make a huge difference but the size of the stitch does. A mattress stitch can create an invisible seam, depending on the pattern. I prefer crochet slip stitch but do occasionally chose mattress stitch.
- The best videos I have come across so far, this search never ends, are the ones on www.garnstudio.com Tips & Help, Tutorial videos, Knitting, (or Crocheting: slip stitch: go through both pieces instead of just the one.) choose language under column About our videos. There is no audio but they are clear without it. Try it!