United Nude – A shoe gallery

Yes, this is actually a shoe shop but feels like a shoe gallery and it really badly wants to be a fetish shoe lounge! “Reflecting United Nude’s flare for innovation, the store is a hallmark to the brand’s conceptual approach. Spanning nearly 200 square meters it is  encased in darkness. Products alone are highlighted in the exclusive computer controlled Wall of Light TM installation, presenting each shoe as a work of art encapsulated in its own geometric frame. Mirrored walls create a sensation of vastness and grandeur.”

I do love architectural footwear and United Nude is certainly the undisputed leader of just that. The latest collection is the most complete so far where shapes and colours herald sensational levels of elevation. I can testify to that claim as I was wondering how long I would stay up-right wearing some of the pairs.

It was launched in 2003, founded by Dutch architect Rem D. Koolhaas and seventh generation British shoemaker Galahad Clark (read: British shoe dynasty Clark’s). “United Nude has grown into a worldwide team of creative minds – a hub of interaction between architects, designers, editors, photographers and artists.”

One of the favourite pairs of mine are these, Crystallization ankle bootie, designed by Iris van Herpen and part of their limited collection, all handmade in  a price range way beyond my means! Iris van Herpen is known for pushing the boundaries of Haute Couture and I realised I had previously seen her designs, including shoes, in the fashion bible L’Officiel. All her footwear was – not for the first time – created in collaboration with United Nude.

United Nude’s story “begins with a broken heart. Rem’s attempt to get the girl back was made by downsizing architecture to its smallest and most vulnerable scale, that of a woman’s foot. While most romantic notions are often foolish, what was hatched through the inspiration of romance was the ‘Möbius’ shoe. The girl was gone, but he knew the shoe had to become real.” Read more about United Nude on their website: unitednude.com and if you are in London, do visit and gawp – like I do – 13 Floral Street in Covent Garden.


Archive: The Unfinished Ones

This is a book about unfinished knitting projects, gathered by the artist Kari Steihaug for more than 10 years and with comments by the knitters, an essay by Dag T. Andersson, Professor of philosophy at the University of Tromsø and another by Art Historian Jorunn Veiteberg written in both Norwegian and English. It is a book where the unfinished objects – UFO in knitspeak – are placed like pieces of art to be studied and analysed: Why was it abandoned? Was it pure boredom that put an end to the project? Or was it time or running out of yarn or lack of attention? Did the knitter change her/his mind about it? Did life interfere in a dramatic way? And maybe we will ask: What if… ?

“Archieve: The Unifinshed Ones is about the poetry in imperfection and about directing attention to something failed and lost. It is a documentary project and can simultaneously be read as an expression of the many aspects of life that turn out differently than we plan.” Kari Steihaug writes in the introduction and confirms that the unfinished garments have been donated by strangers, acquaintances, friends and family through different events and arrangements. See her amazing knitting installations – Rewind: an 11.5 m dress slowly rewound back on the cone. “Something ends and something new can begin” – at karisteihaug.no.

All the UFOs are photographed on knitting graph paper just as the front cover with a brief comment by the knitter whose name, age and location are given. For instance the cover: “9809 01.10.07 (ca. 8 cm x 21 cm x 3 pcs) Found at a flea market at Vinderen elementary school. Anne Karin, 44, Oslo. Photographed by Espen Tollefsen.”

Another unfinished garment that attracted me looked like the beginning of a grey cardi knitted on grey plastic circular needles. The knitter, Randi 47 years from Elverum, stated that: “Jeg er ingen grå mus lenger.” which translates to: I am no grey mouse any more; meaning I am not a wall flower anymore. It is numbered, dated and measured like all the garments in the book: 0265 18.04.07 (170 cm x 15 cm)

“0053 18.01.07 ( 10 cm x 50 cm) Black strip that I made to have something to knit while my son practiced knitting. Kristin, 44, Oslo.” Yes, it is garter stitch – knit on all rows – on standard grey Innox needles. I always unravel – rip in knitspeak – those pieces made while teaching others to knit.

Jorunn Veiteberg essay “A Collection of Remnants – a series on knitting.” tells the story about the author’s interest in knitting: “A ruin – not made of stone, but knitting: Stacks of garments packed so tightly together that they form a wall. That was the sight that confronted visitors to Kari Steihaug’s solo exhibition at the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art in 2007, an exhibition that introduced the museum’s theme for that year of knitting.”

Dag T. Andersson essay: “The Order of incompleteness” asks numerous questions we do not always ask ourself when we abandon yet another UFO: “Our attention must be directed towards those images that show us what history could have, yet did not become.” He refers to the literary critic Walter Benjamin that it is not the finished products that the child is primarily interested in, but the remnants or “waste material”. We all recognise the child’s play with the empty box in preference of the valuable gift inside it.

The Norwegian title: “Arkiv: De Ufullendte” has a deeper meaning than just unfinished, it is closer to unfulfilled but I believe the editor chose the title unfinished in English since it refers to the common knitspeak term UFO as in unfinished objects.

The book is published by Magikon, see magikon.no and yes, they do send abroad. Steihaug is still collecting so I believe we will more from her in the future and I for one will be delighted.


We are Moving

Finally, we are moving to Oslo next month. My husband promised that we would be in Oslo before the Olympics hit London and we will! We spent weeks looking for a flat to rent online before we were able to start to book viewings in Oslo and by then numerous flats were already let. But the one we always came back to – a house horizontally divided for 2 families at Bekkelaget in Oslo – with stunning views over the fjord and the nearby islands as well as large spacious rooms was still available.  We were captivated as soon as we saw it but viewed another one just to leave out all doubt. The day after the decision was taken since we were both afraid to loose it. Here is the view from the garden.

The house is designed by famous Norwegian functionalist architect Arne Korsmo, who drew plans for more than 50 villas, several of which are regarded as masterpieces of Norwegian functionalism, during his 20 year long architectural practise run together with architect Sverre Aasland. His most popular building is his own house, in Planetveien – a newly published book describes its history – and the villa he built for the then current prime minster in 1937-1939, known as Villa Stenersen. Both Arne Korsmo and his wife Grethe Prytz Kittelsen were designers, especially well known for their furniture and cutlery, at the forefront of their time. Kittelsen also designed jewellery made by silver and enamel. Here is the cover of the book we simply had to buy:

My brother suggested that we visit the Agency for Planning and Building Services, read planning office, to take a look at the plans and all the original papers submitted by Arne Korsmo. An excellent suggestion, especially since my husband is an architect and wanted – rather desperately – to see a plan to scale! The folder for the house is still in paper form, only records from 2004 are digitalised, and we were thrilled to find hand drawn plans, facade and elevation as well as the engineer’s hand written calculations. We found the digging application signed by Arne Korsmo with hand written comments plus approval, in red pencil, by the planning officer and a completion certificate was dated 23.12.1941. The third bedroom is small and was initially made for the maid, it says “pike” as in “tjeneste pike” meaning serving girl on the original plan drawn on linen paper. As you may suspect, we are planning to go back for further study into the build of the house and to enjoy all the material available for everyone to view.


My Favourite Waffles

One of first things I crave when I am back in my native Oslo is waffles. Like most Norwegians I have tested out different recipes and made my own lunch version, which tastes delicious served with honey, especially after a long walk in Marka.

Here is the recipe:

  • 1. 5 dl plain flour
  • 1.5 dl oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 dl soya or ordinary milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 dl melted butter or margarine


Mix well and leave in the fridge to swell/prove for at least an hour, before using the waffle maker. Serve with real Norwegian honey, now available to buy online from Scandikitchen in London, see www.scandikitchen.co.uk. Enjoy!



Finishing School by Deborah Newton

Finishing is such an elementary part of knitting that I believe you have to learn to perfection to enjoy. Many knitters tend to avoid projects where time consuming finishing is required just because they do not take any pleasure in sewing, especially compared to knitting the different parts. I, on the other hand, believe that a bit of finishing can sometimes make the difference between looking handmade and looking professional. I have learned to enjoy and take pleasure in my finishing with the aim of making each garments nearly as beautiful on the wrong side as the right side. So do I need yet another book on the topic? Yes, I believe I do! There is so much I – and you – can learn from, the acknowledged designer, Deborah Newton. So off I go to Finishing School!

“Good finishing is just as important as good fit – without it, my sweaters would look homely rather than stylish. There is nothing worse than a bumpy, uneven seam or sloppy or too-tight edgings – these off-kilter details draw the eye away from the beauty of even the most lovely knitted fabric.” Newton claims in the introduction and I could not agree more. I believe – as she does that – it is merely a question of gaining a few skills and thinking ahead. My basic tips are to sew up as you finish knitting the different parts and do it the same way you would knit, stitch by stitch. I become like the knitting process myself and it is the ultimate achievement.

It is a question of respect, to each piece you have knitted – the craft and the material involved – and justifying the hours spent knitting it. So do spend a bit of time doing the finishing and do not rush through it. Newton offers workshops with a number of photos and drawings to guide you on edgings, seaming, lining, custom couture and steeking. The cover photo is the materials used to make a custom couture knit and is 1 of the 14 excellent patterns offered in this comprehensive and resourceful book.

Her final note on finishing is my goal, always: “Through careful attention to detail and an eye toward perfect construction, you can make your sweaters look fabulous. You can learn new techniques and valuable skills. You can repair and rejuvenate. And you can take the old and make it new again. Finishing School is never out of session.” Thank you, Deborah Newton!


Hifa sponsoring more designs

I am pleased to announce that Hifa will sponsor more of my designs. They are pleased with the 3 designs in my book knitted using Hifa yarn which I selected after drooling over their large colour selection offering clear hues with great saturation. Even their factory shop outside of Bergen is currently knitting the Japanese Vest for display to promote my book to my amazement! It is knitted in Hifa Huldra Kamgarn in shade 8021 sea green, worn by Kari Anne Næssø and photographed by Kim Müller.

Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk, producer of Hifa yarn, was established in 1898 and has always focused on creating colour dyes that captivate nature’s colours. Take one look at photo of the Hifa Kamgarn below and you understand what I mean – yes, they do ship abroad, even though their website is in Norwegian. See ull.no. The colours have name that gives you a good idea of its tone unlike shade names given by indy dyers such as DyeForYarn which leaves you guessing but does make you laugh, take a look at Etsy: etsy.com/shop/DyeForYarn

  • Bat in a dark mood – dark tones of purple with black.
  • Bat biting the dust – dark and light tones of purple.
  • Tarzan’s Very Bad Day – bottle green with some lighter tones of green.
  • Too Much Mint Cocktail – shades of clashing mint green.
  • Poisonous Marshmallow – pale rose pink.



I am nearly ready to open my Ravelry pattern shop – today – and add another page to my blog with 5 patterns knitted in a selection of Thomas Kvist Yarns with alternatives offered to begin with. Here is the logo my husband has designed for me – which I love -he is faboulus! My latest challenge – yes, I know there are many – is to start offering all patterns in the following sizes XS to 3XL.



Bells Top

My latest design, an A-line top with ruffled bell border, three layers to twirl around in, and a continued bell-rope stitch pattern. Wear it with belt if you like. Comfortable for the summer with loose sleeves. Why not pin one sleeve into a scarf collar? Both are knitted in Aneta, from Thomas Kvist Yarns, a lovely soft, denim cotton tweed, with a great stitch definition. See thomaskvist.

Aneta is a sport weight yarn made of 100% cotton denim tweed and comes in 100 gram hanks,  330m/361yards. I chose a delicate medium blue shade. Knits to a 24 sts tension/guage to 10cm/4″ using a 3mm/US 2-3. It could easily be replaced by Drops Safran by Garnstudio or Ultra Pima by Cascade Yarns.

The ruffled borders and the bands around neck and arms are knitted in the round, while the top and the sleeves are knitted flat.

The pattern will be available in both Norwegian and English as a downloadable pdf to buy from this website and Ravelry. My husband is currently working on the schematic and assisting on all technical issues, I have.

I have called this a top but realised it could also be called a sleeveless pullover, sweater or even jumper. To be enlightened read Karen Berthine’s brilliant post: A Kangaroo and a Sweater, here is the link: sweatyknitter.

Here is a close up of the stitch pattern, which shows off its beautiful texture.


Pattern Magic

This is not a description of what I do – only what I aim to create in knitting – but a series of 3 cult pattern-cutting books from Japan by Tomoko Nakamichi, published by Laurence King that I discovered at the V&A bookshop. The books show you how to create stunning, sculptural and Japanese inspired clothes step-by-step through clear diagrams – not unlike knitting schematics – and detailed photographs. Each of them is a gem, revealing the secrets of each garment like pieces in a puzzle.

Who is the genius behind them? The answer is Tomoko Nakamichi, a professor in Pattern Making at Bunka Fashion College – yes, that sounded familiar because it is the college where both designers Kenzo and Yamamoto among others studied. See bunka-fc.ac.jp/en/history. The books bring together the results of the research on garment patterns she has carried out to help instruct her students.

“Making a pattern. Clothes are a way of expressing oneself, and with this in mind I’m often inspired by fashions of the past. To discover how they were made, I try drafting the patterns myself, and sometimes come up with designs that are entirely my own” she writes in Pattern Magic available at Amazon, here: amazon.co.uk.

My own sewing skills are very limited and need to be improved immensely but that is not the only reason why these books appealed to me. Learning more about pattern making, I believe will make me a better knitwear designer. Take one look at Mathew Gnagy’s designs and you will understand me, see my post on knitting-off-the-axis. Merely studying each photograph is like admiring a beautiful sculpture, each garment a piece of art! A true inspiration and an outstanding source of pattern knowledge – indeed, they are magic!