Thursday, 14 October 2010

My first ring shawl

I have been knitting several lace shawls this year, but I had not yet tried to knit a Shetland pattern. All my previous shawls have been Estonian patterns. I love them very much, but I wanted to knit a ring-shawl (that is a shawl you may thread through a ring ).

I had already bought a book about Shetland lace knitting on by Sharon Miller, called "Heirloom Knitting". It is a nice book, with a good description of the lace traditions on Shetland and many beautiful patterns. But there were no patterns in the book that I just had to knit right now.

So I searched the net for patterns, and found a web-site run by Sharon Miller, also named Heirloom Knitting. This sight is absolutely fantastic, with many beautiful patterns, yarns, hints and useful links, in addition to the books she has written. It contains everything you need to make a beautiful Shetland shawl.

I bought several patterns, and decided to start with a shawl called "1Ply Rosebud Shawl". It was not too big, so that I would be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time. I was also able to use the wooden frame I had already made to block the shawl out after I had finished knitting.

It took me about 150 hours to complete the shawl. Most of the center piece was knitted in a hotel room in Turkey this summer, escaping the hot afternoon sun with my daughter. I used a very fine light grey merino wool yarn called "Fine merino", which I bought at the web shop "Purl soho". It was a challenge to knit with such a fine yarn on 3,5 mm needles in the heat. My daughter and I had many nice afternoons, where she played GoSupermodel and listened to Justin Bieber while I was knitting.

It has been a while since I finished knitting the shawl, but I didn't have time to block it out until recently. The shawl is 155x155 cm and weighs 58 gram when finished. I was a bit unsure whether I would be able to thread the shawl through one of my rings, but I needn’t worry. It came through easily. I had made my first ring shawl!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

To make a Bunad

The Norwegian national holiday is on the 17th May. On that day, many (in particular) females wear a national costume called a bunad. They are copies of old galla dresses from the 16th to the 18th century, and was constructed during the Norwegian liberation from its union with Sweden, intended to boost the national sentiment in the population. Most of these patterns were constructed during the period 1850 - 1930. After 17th May this year, I decided that it was finally time for me to sew my own bunad.

There are many hundred different bunads, all depending on where in the country your ancestors originate from. I was bit a unsure about which bunad to choose, but landed on the Vest-Telemark bunad, which originates from the place where my father’s family comes from (see pictures).

I wanted to make my own bunad from scratch, so I ordered fabric, pattern, silver and thread from Husfliden, which is an organisation aiming to preserve old Norwegian craft traditions. They have several stores, where they, among other things, sell bunads. They also arrange craft courses to teach people to weave, make bunads, make traditional silverware and many other traditional handicrafts.

It took some time to get all the different pieces that makes up a bunad, and I had to wait for both the red cloth to the jacket and for them to make the pattern for my shirt again. But finally, in the beginning of September, all the materials arrived and I could pick them up at Husfliden. The box was so full that the lid would not fit on top. 

 I had never sewn the kind of stitches which were acquired for the embroidery on the bunad, but I knew how to do them and the pattern was printed on the fabric, so how hard could it be. It turned out to be harder than I expected, as the wool fabric was very coarse, which meant that I could not only use the natural holes in the weave to place the stitches because this would make the edges of the embroidery uneven. The angle of the stitches is also very important. So I started on the purse, so it would not be so expensive if I made a mistake. In that way, I could get some practice before starting on the more expensive parts of the bunad.

Now, I have finished the purse (it is only half done on the pictures), and I am almost finished with the embroidery on the edges of the skirt. I am going on a bunad course in the middle of November, and hope to have finished all the embroidery on the dress before this time so that I can use the time on the course to sew the bunad together.

Hopefully, I will have a bran new bunad to wear next 17th May.