21 December 2010

Gingerbread castle


Enter, if thy dare!

12 December 2010

The first

Today. My husband and I, for the first time this winter, skiing in the woods of my childhood, where my father used to take me, the two of us, alone, blue sky, ice cold sunny winter weather, snow on the trees. Beautiful. Wonderful. Love.

01 December 2010

December 1st!

This morning, I woke up to a pleasant surprise: My very own Advent Calendar, wrapped in paper marked with a T, hanging innocently on the children's Advent Calendar. A lovely little book (one of Murakami's favorites, so I better like it!), marked with which section to read which of the next 24 days. And I can't access the pages for tomorrow and the days after that without ripping out the red tabs. Clever. And very, very cute!

21 November 2010

Attitude


When I learned to knit, 26 years ago, I wanted my knitting to be the smooth, wonderful stockinette stitch. And a few years later, when I'd learned how to purl – or knit in the round, I don't remember which came first – it did finally look that way. I still want my knitting to look that way. And if the garment has an exciting construction, I don't find knitting stockinette stitch the least boring. Creating beauty simply can't be!

My new design is another tribute to the stitch of my heart. A plain cardigan as it may look, those little details keeping the knitter – and the eye – interested are definitely there. Twisted ribbing, tubular cast ons, as well as bind offs, creating beautiful edges. Cropped length on both body and sleeves makes this perfect for layering, a way to wear wool without getting to warm. The design also offers a different approach to the set-in sleeve. All seamless, except for those tiny holes under each arm.

I find this garment extremely easy to wear, and I have been wearing it a lot already (the winter has definitely arrived, so there is an urgent need for woolen garments). I'm particularly fond of this yarn–button color combination, but the cardigan can of course be worked in a more subtle color as well, it will look great anyway.

Attitude [@ravelry] specs:
Pattern: Attitude (Attityde) by Tora Frøseth
Size shown: L
Needles: 3.5 mm
Yarn: Ask, 450 g of green (6023)

14 November 2010

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in Norway, and all my men's and boy's patterns are 20 % off. Sale lasts until midnight tomorrow. Click image to purchase patterns. Happy Father's Day!

08 November 2010

Energy booster

I'm back home after a wonderful weekend in Trondheim with a really good friend of mine. There were great conversations - this girl is my absolute favorite discussion partner! And we read a wonderful little book, After the Quake by Murakami. Only six little stories, and I finished it on the flight back to Oslo. I usually find it hard to get to know the characters when reading short stories. Not so with this one. I think I even got to know them a little better than I usually do with Murakami's characters. I think I'll re-read it in a while, there is more to these stories than revealed at first reading. Besides talking and reading, we ate great sushi (what would life be without good food?), enjoyed a lovely opera at Olavshallen, and went for a walk in this year's first snow! And even though I'm now happy to be with my family again, I long for that lovely white carpet covering everything and making the world clean and quiet. I hope we won't have to wait too long.

31 October 2010

Masks

The kids have made plaster face masks for Halloween, and it was so much fun! They had to lie still for a long time while we made masks,  and then a while longer for the plaster to dry. I remember the sensation of having the plaster gauge on the face as being kind of claustrophobic, but the kids did fine. Then they painted the masks, after carefully planning how they wanted the masks to look. I think they turned out great. Now we're ready for party!

27 October 2010

Wool

A pile of yarn in lovely colors now ready to be sent out in the big world along with their patterns. The wool winding part of the day is over, and there is knitting waiting patiently on the couch. And some all-done-only-waiting-for-the-yarn-ends-to-be-fastened projects. I have a few of those as well. I guess today is a good day for all this. I've got a cold, and it feels like there is something big and fluffy inside my head. Like wool. As much as I love wool, I prefer it being somewhere else. Like in my hands.

I'm working on a scarf in lovely deep blue softer than soft wool (always need a new scarf for winter, don't you?). It's worked in Alv's big sister, Huldra. It is as soft as anything. It reminds me of alpaca, only much lighter. I don't think I'd worked an adult sweater with it, though. But for a scarf, or a shawl, or hat or baby garments it's great. For a sweater, I'd choose my Ask yarn, but I know many people think it's too scratchy. I like the lightness, the way it captures so much air in between the woolen fibers. And it feels so strong, like it's going to last forever. I like the truly woolen feeling of it.

And speaking of soft - how soft do you like your wool? Do you have different preferences depending on type of project? And what about drape? Do you like your woolen garments to be heavy, like when worked in alpaca? Or light, like when worked in Shetland's wool?

07 October 2010

Heartbreaker

The mornings are getting colder, and we all need woolen accessories, at least in the morning. This set is for a little girl, my baby niece born i July. I've been wanting to create accessories with these hearts for a long time. To make the design work, they are constructed in a slightly different way than those of Sweetheart and Hearts though, but visually, they're just the same. My niece was born with a smaller head than her older brother, so the hat is still a little too big for her, but she'll grow into it. I made her the six months size, and she's still only two months old, after all.

The hat is worked from the top down, with earflaps for coverage and an attached I-cord for a beautiful finish. I liked working the I-cord edging and strings, and I think it's what made the hat a little more special. The scarf to go with it is a classic bow tie scarf. They don't actually have much of a neck, those tiny ones, so this little scarf is all they need to keep warm. In order to make the hearts look good, it's worked in two directions. It is not at all difficult, though, and no seaming is required, as a provisional cast on is used for joining the two parts. The mitts are also very simple, and without a thumb, since babies don't know how to keep their thumb in place anyway. These are also worked from the top-down.


Heartbreaker [@ravelry] specs:
Pattern: Heartbreaker (Hjerteknuser) by Tora Frøseth
Size: 6 months
Needles: 3.75 mm and 3.0 mm
Yarn: Hifa Superwash, 75 g of pink (910) and 25 g of brown (961)

29 September 2010

Elle melle


Two new designs are available in the store! First, a cardigan for my daughter. Many of you have asked me to design an Angle cardigan in kids' sizes, and I have been reluctant to do so. Mainly because I think the design looks best on smaller (boxier shaped) kids, but also because I think it would serve only as a dress up garment, not so suitable for play. And kids are meant to play, in my opinion, so I'll always try to design garments in agreement with that.

Elle melle is the compromise. I took the squishy ridges from Angle, added stockinette stitch sleeves, and got a functional cardigan with an interesting construction (visible for the knitting nerds only, I'd guess) and a look that I liked. The stockinette sleeves was imperative, both for gaining the look I was after, and to make sure that movement was possible, even when worn under a jacket.

"Elle melle
deg fortelle
skipet går
ut i år
rygg i rand
to i spann
snipp, snapp, snute
du er ute"


(Norwegian counting rhyme)


Figuring out how to add single colored sleeves without having to do any seaming (that's an imperative, too. I don't like seams in my knitted garments) or complicated intarsia knitting took some time. The solution was to work the cardigan modularly, to combine well known techniques in a (to me, at least) new way. The body of the cardigan is worked from the bottom up, then sts are picked up around the sleeve opening, and the sleeves are worked from the top down using short rows. I had a lot of fun working the sleeves, seeing them take shape as I worked them (it sounds silly, I know, but that was how I felt). And I thing the resulting smooth raglanish line is pretty. Learned something new from this project. Like that!

Elle melle [@ravelry] specs:
Pattern: Elle melle (Elle melle på norsk) by Tora Frøseth
Size: 6 years
Needles: 3.5 mm and 3.0 mm
Yarn: Hifa Ask, 130 g of each color (6079 violet and 6096 orange)

20 September 2010

Vesterbro


Last week was kind of swoosh! over, since it actually started on Tuesday for the four of us. And besides, it took a few days for the brain to realize we were back home after our little trip away from home. Now it's obvious, everyday life has once again begun, and as much as I usually like our ordinary life, I can't help but looking back at the trip to Copenhagen, and longing for the lazy (well, we did walk a lot, but lazy still) holiday feeling we had there. Sometimes life feels like being on a highway, and I find myself desperately seeking an alternative route. A path like that of yesterday would be great, that's how I want my life to feel like.

On Monday, we went shopping and caféing (if that's not a word, it should be!) in a part of the city called Vesterbro. Walking all of Istedgade, we found so many lovely, small shops and laid back cafés. We had lunch on Cafe Bang & Jensen (the two photos to the left above are from this café), and I think I had the best meal on the trip. Sandwich with Serrano ham, semi dried tomatoes (similar to the ones I made a few weeks ago) and pesto. Go there, if you're in the neighborhood.

I found a lot of inspiration in Copenhagen, from streetwear to the texture of walls. I tried to capture it all, you can see that on the picture below, can't you, how I'm concentrating to keep it all from disappearing? This little café was a really nice place for having a croissant and a coffee. And for reading, writing, drawing or just plain relaxing. I don't remember its name, but it was one of the many really relaxed places in that street (ETA: According to Julie and Anja, we visited Riccos. Thanks, girls!). I liked that wall behind me, by the way - the same wall as that behind my husband on the top right photo. I'd like to knit something like it one day.

19 September 2010

Autumn

It is definitely autumn, and we enjoy it to the fullest! A wonderful day in the greenest of woods, hiking my favorite path. On the 15th, we were once again allowed to make a fire in the woods, and this was thoroughly celebrated today. Once again we found mushrooms, and "a lot" doesn't cover the quantities we brought home. I don't know what to do with it all! Guess we'll have a lot of mushroom soup this winter.

My father used to take me to these places when I was a child, and I love being here with my own children. I think these moss covered, green woods are beautiful. The path goes from a place called Bysetermosan, and was built around 1750 by a Madam Cudrio, who owned most of the woods east of Oslo. She was one of the wealthiest people in the area at the time. On the photo to the left, you can see the ancient stone wall created to make a functional riding path. This was actually an important road for transporting goods some hundred years ago. I really like walking on it, both for its beauty and for its history.

15 September 2010

A room with a view


And not any view: Copenhagen! Taken from the hotel room, high above the streets. A lovely weekend has ended. Long walks, hand in hand, kissing, enjoying the company, just the two of us. In love. Again. And we liked the Danish city. Liked the streets, the houses, the bicycles, the long lunches, the art, the shops, the music.

We usually put a lot of effort in finding great places to eat, we have a common passion for food. And we did go to one great sushi restaurant, Umami, on Friday. It was such a cool place, and the sushi was excellent! But other than that, we didn't eat on the fancy restaurants. We had other plans for the weekend, so the dinners were mostly about feeding.

On Saturday, we went to a jazz concert with Chris Cheek and Jacob Bro Trio on Copenhagen Jazzhouse. It was so great! A lovely place, lots of people enjoying themselves, and great music. But most importantly, we loved being on a jazz concert together, it's been too long since last time we did that. And we did it again. On Sunday, we went to the jam session on La Fontaine. It was crowded and so much fun! And a fantastic drummer showed up. I don't remember his name, but he was amazing! Made my evening perfect.

More about the rest some other time. I got so many ideas while in Copenhagen. Need to put some of them into knitting.

27 August 2010

The Sheep Man

Thank you all for the response on the last post (seems like people prefer reading about Murakami over knitting..). And I am a fan, so I won't let the subject go just yet. But this is after all a knitting blog, so while I'll try answering the questions from the last post today, I also want to show you this knitted sheep once more. Some of you might remember I made Murakami mitts a while ago, to some friends of mine (the same two friends with whom I enjoyed the festival - without the mitts, though, it's August!). This was right after I'd read A Wild Sheep Chase, my very first Murakami novel - or rather the first Murakami anything. I loved that book, and couldn't just let it go. So I made the mitts. The pattern on the palm is champagne bubbles, because someone once said reading Murakami was like drinking champagne. And it is, only better, because the Murakami bubbles last longer. I haven't made myself a pair yet, but I know what to "write" on them. I'm just waiting for the time and inspiration to knit them.

So, the Sheep Man appear in A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance. Someone says the latter is a sequel to the first, and it sort of is, too. But don't expect to get any answers to the thousands of questions from A Wild Sheep Chase. I read Dance, Dance, Dance looking for answers, and I think I'd enjoyed the book a lot more if I hadn't. The book stands on its own feet, and it's beautiful! I will certainly re-read it in a while, without any other expectation than finding beauty and bubbles.

Some of you asked if he's popular in Norway. He is, but it's not like everyone has read his books or even heard about him. I know a lot of people who haven't. They have heard about him now, though, after listening to me for some days.. But he is popular enough that the 250 tickets for the live show sold out in 1 second and made the computer system managing the tickets break down. And then a few hundreds more got tickets for watching him on screen, but those tickets sold out pretty fast, too.

Haruki Murakami didn't tell us what he's currently working on, and I don't think anyone thought of asking about it either. I guess we were all too busy waiting for the Norwegian translation of 1Q84 and its 1500 pages. And since Murakami insists on Volume 1 and 2 being read as one, the translation of both has to be completed before we can even start. I'll be so ready when they're available!

25 August 2010

The Murakami Blues


The Murakami festival is over. Four days of hearing about him, thinking about him, talking about him, hearing him talk. Except for eating and sleeping once in a while, we did nothing but this. For four days (I didn't even knit. Imagine it!). Haruki Murakami himself has been in Oslo for 4-5 weeks, and came to the festival on Monday. We didn't have tickets to the live show, but we got tickets for watching the show on screen. It wasn't Plan A, but as a Plan B, it was great! So how was he? He said it himself:

"I'm an ordinary guy. Maybe not while I'm writing - you must come see me while I'm writing." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

And so he seemed. Like an ordinary guy. Very much alive, very funny, but ordinary. And yet there is nothing ordinary about his writing. Critics all over the world struggle when trying to put into words what it is about Murakami.

"Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. That is what my stories are about." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

It's hard to tell what else these stories are about, it's hard to tell what it is that he does so well. But there is this ordinary guy, he merely exists in the world, and seems fine with that. No job, no partner, no close friends. He likes listening to music, he likes to cook. And then something happens. A love affair. A wild sheep chase. A deep well. And our guy takes on the challenge, fantastic things happen - or do they really? - and when it's over, the guy keeps on living his ordinary life. And the text is so naked, silent, direct. His writing certainly does something to me, and I like that something.

"I have no plan. That is a main thing. (..) When the story ends, I just know it ends, so I stop the story. (..) The characters just pop up in my mind, from the blue. (..) When the Sheep Man appeared, I was shocked." Haruki Murakami, Oslo 8/23/10

We laughed when he told about his creating the Sheep Man. Those of us who have read the book know this character is really something out of the ordinary. Murakami must have one great imagination (well, I never doubted that). He considers himself lucky to be a writer. That way he doesn't have to stop dreaming when he wakes up in the morning. I hope he never stops dreaming.

Apart from Murakami himself visiting, the festival program was full of other great events. Frode Grytten's "While waiting for Murakami" was spectacular as always (there is a great picture from the show here), the Peter Cat concert with Håvard Wik trio and Gisken Armand reading from Murakami's books was beautiful. And the Scandinavian Murakami translators talking about how it was translating Murakami was very interesting (I will never read a Murakami book in English again). Ika Kaminka (Norwegian) and Mette Holm (Danish) are currently translating the new Murakami book 1Q84, and Yukiko Duke (Swedish) has interviewed Murakami about the book. They talked about the book(s), and said we have a lot to look forward to. I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my signed (!) copies of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and Sputnik Sweetheart. In Norwegian, of course.

20 August 2010

Today


It feels like this little butterfly and its cousins, aunts and uncles have all moved into my stomach. The Murakami festival starts today, and I'm so excited!

16 August 2010

Adonis


Adonis, the ever-youthful, handsome Syrian/Greek god and lover of Aphrodite, murdered for his beauty by another god disguised as a boar. My interpretation is a sweater made to make The Man look even more handsome. The patterned front panel is slightly wider at chest than at hip level, and creates an optical illusion of the perfect male body, by enhancing the V-shape they all dream of. The stitch pattern is simple, but one of my favorites for masculine garments, so is the shoulder design, the seamless hybrid originally unvented by Elizabeth Zimmermann (our heroine, isn't she?).

It is worked from the bottom up and is almost seamless. Worked on 3.5 mm needles in a yarn thin enough for a warm man to wear it all the time, yet durable enough for a lot of use. The yarn is lovely to work with, the one I always return to for sweaters. A forgiving yarn that makes your stitches look great. I find it's thin enough for wearing at work (which means I get to use it a lot), yet thick enough to manage to finish the project. The pattern is simple enough for watching TV, but except for the sleeves which are all stockinette stitch, things happen all the time to keep the knitter interested. Despite having a previous history of knitting mostly smaller items, I found this project extremely satisfying. I'll never be afraid of knitting a large sweater again.

Available as kit or pattern in my pattern store. You can do it!

13 August 2010

Friday


It rained a lot all morning, and I mean a lot. It literally poured down, and there is an enormous puddle in front of the house, there is no way to enter the house without rubber boots. Then it suddenly stopped, and I got to read a few pages in the sun before I went inside to make pizza. And yes, it is the chanterelle pizza, once again. Luxury on the last day of the never ending summer holiday. Which of course had to come to an end sooner or later, as it always does. I guess it's okay. The children and I have had more than 7 weeks off, and we've had a great time. A truly relaxing holiday for everyone. Just hoping that the rest of August will be warm and sunny, so that we'll have a slow start on the darker time of the year.

That book I'm reading is no holiday, though. It's so much Murakami, yet so little like him at the same time. The story is so dark, and I don't quite get what's going on. Not at all, actually. I really wonder where this will end (at the End of the World, I guess..). Only one more week before the big happening. I can hardly wait!

09 August 2010

Tomatoes from heaven

Oven-dried tomatoes, which taste like heaven. The recipe is Liselotte's (in Danish), and very easy: Cut tomatoes in half, sprinkle with salt, rosemary and a bit of sugar, and let dry in the oven at 100°C for about 6 hours. It takes a while, but in the meantime, a lot of knitting can be done, and the result is fantastic! Put them in your salad, on bread, or just eat them from the jar. My guess is they won't last long in there anyway.

07 August 2010

Mushrooms

It seems like autumn is here already, at least if you ask the chanterelles. Yes, I know there are mushrooms in summer, but to me they say it's already - or at least soon to be - autumn. I think it's my favorite autumn happening, the mushroom hunting. I love being in the woods with a purpose, and the purpose of finding delicious mushrooms to be had for dinner is the best of them all. We found a lot today. And we made chanterelle pizza. The thin, Italian style pizza, but instead of tomato sauce, with chanterelles sauteed in sour cream, and with fried bacon and sun-dried tomatoes on top. We've never made such a pizza before, but it will surely be repeated. It was a great success!

Apart from the obvious joy of finding mushrooms, we had a great time by our favorite lake in the woods, with the canoe, the hammock, pancakes on the primus stove and bathing. A lovely day! My husband's summer holiday ends tomorrow, so next week, the children and I are one our own when he's at work. I wish for warm, sunny days. As much as I love mushrooms, I haven't had quite enough of summer yet.

02 August 2010

While waiting for Murakami

"Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who's in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It's like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven't seen in a long time." - Haruki Murakami.

It's been a busy morning. As you probably know, I love the books by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami*. I even made those mitts, you know. Those books make me feel at home somehow. They're like missing pieces of myself. So, when the news broke that he himself was coming to Norway, I knew I had to be there. And today, the ticket sales started. We were so close to getting hold of the tickets. Close, but not close enough. Fortunately, they've made a whole Murakami festival out of the visit, and we did manage to get tickets to the other almost as exciting events.

While waiting for the next weeks to pass, I'll read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I have read all his novels, except for this one. I hope we won't have to wait for the translation of his latest novel 1Q84 for too long.

And if you haven't read A Wild Sheep Chase, you probably won't understand why that sheep is here. Well, you'll just have to read the book, then.

*Make sure you have the sound turned on when clicking the link. The music is beautiful!

31 July 2010

Wool at Valbjør gard


While at the cabin, we went to this lovely mountain farm. Valbjør gard is situated in the hills high above Vågåmo and the green Lake Vågå, amongst beautiful mountains. The oldest house on the farm date back to the Middle Ages, the others are from the 16th-18th century. There were even people living there as far back as the Viking Age. Today, the farm has sheep and goats, all managed ecologically. I got to talk to an elderly woman who sat outside doing handspinning. She was born on the farm, and had lived there most of her life. I enjoyed talking to her so much.

There was no doubt she had spun yarn before. The way she handled the hand carders, then easily spun the yarn onto the spinning wheel was so impressive (please forgive me if my terminology is inaccurate on this subject, this is a whole new world to me). I have admired handspun yarns seen on various blogs the past years, but never felt the urge to try it myself. I do have a spinning wheel, though. It was my grandmother's - the one with all the buttons - and it seems to be in pretty good shape. It's an Ashford traditional, and I only need to get hold of some bobbins to get started. And I will. I loved watching that old woman creating yarn, and I'd really like to try it myself.