Freydis Eiriksdottir and a new Lopapeysa

January 28, 2015

If you've ever had a course in creative writing, you've probably heard of the adage "Show, don't tell". This time, however, I simply have to tell a little story before I can show you my new sweater...  

In the first decade of the 11th century, something remarkable happened. European colonists, long before the famous Columbus would even be born, found a mysterious, vast and rich continent to the west of the Ocean. These events are described in The Saga of Eirik the Red, whose main character is, you might have guessed it, not Eirik the Red. Though Eirik does discover Greenland over the span of a few chapters, the mainland Americas are left to another generation. Instead, Eirik is the common link between the five protagonists who actually do discover America: his sons Leif and Thorvald* Eiriksson, his son-in-law Thorfin* Karlsefni, his servant Thorhall* the Pagan, but most remarkably, his daughter Freydis.

*There's a nice rythm to these names, isn't there?

After Leif Eiriksson is blown off course by a storm and thus accidentally discovers Vinland, it's Freydis and her husband Karlsefni who instigate a new expedition to find and colonize the land. They leave together with Thorhall and Thorvald, and a great group of men and women. After a long quest, they find a suitable place to settle. There, they are surprised to find Skraelingar already living in this new land. Swiftly, the Norse settlers manage to set up trade with these natives, trading Norse red-dyed cloth for fur and food. One day, however, a Norse bull, driven mad by the constant waving of red cloth, escapes and attacks the native traders, who promptly flee the scene.

The Skraelingar come back, this time to wage war on the settlers. The bull, they reason, was one of the Norsemen and attacked them on purpose. The fight is fierce: the natives, though lightly armed, have an overwhelming numerous advantage over the settlers. The fierce Vikings are routed and turn to flee, until the first lady of the expedition, the by now pregnant Freydis, comes out of her hut, scolding her male relatives: "Such gallant lads as you, I thought you would have knocked them on the head like cattle. Why, if I had a weapon, I think I could put up a better fight than any of you!". Freydis proceeds to pick up the sword of a fallen Viking, and indeed puts up quite the fight. When she is finally in danger of being overwhelmed, she put up a final show of defiance: according to the saga, Freydis "pulled out her breasts from under her clothes, and slapped the naked sword on them, at which the Skraelings took fright and ran of to their boats".

Through this unconventional act of heroism, Freydis saved the Norse settlers. Deciding however that this land was apparently already ruled by a foreign people, the Vikings turn homewards to Greenland. Although the pattern is actually named after a different Icelandic Saga, I thought it fitting to name my latest Lopi-sweater after this rare Viking heroine.

Pattern: Grettir
Designer: Jared Flood
 Collection: Brooklyn Tweed Winter 2013
Yarn: Istex Lett Lopi
Raveled here

I made this jumper in Istex Lett Lopi instead of the Brooklyn Tweed the pattern calls for. Mainly because I take any excuse to make a jumper in my favourite yarn, especially when the Icelandic inspiration jumps at you from the pattern. In any case Brooklyn Tweed yarns aren't available in mainland Europe so I had to use a different yarn anyway. I used a beautiful deep dark red shade from lett lopi that I had in my stash for quite a while. I initially planned to use it for a different sweater, but that design lost its appeal to me. I saved it waiting for the appeal to come back. Unfortunately it never did, so I just embraced it and finally busted it out of its box to be used for this design. I'm so glad I did! I can't get over how gloriously red the colour is! It also convinced me that I need more red sweaters. Because of the striking main colour I opted for a subtle yoke. I'm absolutely besotted with the sweater and have worn it almost non stop since I casted it off.

I have made many Icelandic jumpers before, but this one was a bit different. It incorporates some less traditional techniques in the designs that I have not encountered in  in any of the (more traditional?) original Icelandic patterns. Some I of these I adopted for my version, such as the short-rows. Other design elements I left out or altered because I did not like the look of them, or because they seemed a very difficult way of achieving something relatively simple, such as the tubular cast on method. I left the of the high collar off, as I dislike dislike sweaters with a cowl attached to it. Instead I knitted a ribbed neckband.

The pictures of this sweater were taken after a particularly heavy snowfall earlier this month. Here at the Treehouse we made the most of this glorious occasion by having lots of magical walks in the snow under a starry night sky, having even more snow fights, getting epically stuck in train traffic and seizing the opportunity to take project pictures in the snow. Sadly it was already on it's way out when we took these, but ah well, you can't have it all. Aside from this particular snow week  and the snow we had during Christmas, our winter has been confusingly mild. Since January, February and the beginning of March are usually our coldest months it may well be that we're in for some more snow later. We'll see.

I hope you liked my little story about Freydis Eiriksdottir, if you are into (old) literature of the legend and myth kind, I definitely recommend it. I certainly plan on reading more of the Icelandic and Scandinavian Viking sagas. Similarly I plan to make many more Icelandic sweaters during the rest of my merry life, but that should come as no surprise.


Knit Alongs

Follow Your Arrow: Clue 1

January 23, 2015

(fellow arrow knitters: there will be spoilers in this post so click away if you don't want to see them!)

Time to report on my shawl progress! A lot has been going on this week, but in between studying, making exams and celebrating my boyfriend's birthday I managed to squeeze in some mystery knit time yesterday. Luckily Ysolda started gently this time, so I finished it within a day.

I finally made a yarn choice. I'm sure lots of people in my life are very happy about that, since I've finally stopped buggering them about yarn options. In the end I went with the Old Maiden Aunt yarn. So far I've only used one colour, but Ysolda said that there will be many options later on to add a colour should you wish to do so.

I went with clue 1b, because it had some texture added. It resembles the tail end of an arrow slightly doesn't it? On the pattern page Ysolda says:"The overall shapes aren’t weird and won’t form an arrow pointing at your arse.", so I'm trusting her and go with it! Clue A and B are very different, and which one you choose determines the shape of the rest of the shawl. It's going to be exciting to see how different the shawls will be. In the Ysolda KAL Ravlery group you can see how creative everyone has been with yarn options ets. Some brave souls are even making more than one shawl. I'm very close to finishing another knitting project, which I hope to do this weekend so I can then fully commit to the Follow Your Arrow KAL (and exams...booo!).

 Now the wait for the next clue starts!


Knit Alongs

KAL -or- To Follow a Mysterious Arrow

January 19, 2015

Copyright: Ysolda Teague
It has been an intense week here at the Treehouse! It was the first week of my exam period, with two more weeks to go. So a lot of studying and working on papers and essays has been going on here. In the meantime books have been coming in for the new semester and the pile has reached a worrying height. Although you can never have to many books, and although many of these books I would have loved to read in my spare time, it's always a bit disconcerting when your pile of  "work"-reading is to large to fit on your bookshelf.

Perfect timing for some distraction to come along! Distraction presents itself in the form of a new exciting project:
A Mystery Shawl Knit Along by Ysolda Teague! 
She did one of these last year, and I had wanted to participate in that one but it never happened because similar to this time, it was during the annual January exam period, so exams and essays ruled my life.

It has been a while since I participated in a Mystery KAL. Ysolda's formula follows a 'choose your own adventure' format. For the duration of the knit along you get two clues, every week, from which you choose one. The result is 32 possible combinations. This is such an exciting innovation from Ysolda. I loved last year's shawls so much that I'm confident that I'll like this year's design as well.

The instructions don't come with a recommended yarn, it just says to use fingering yarn. There are instructions provided in case you want to use more than one colour. I can't tell you how many times I've changed my mind about which yarns to use and how many colours.  From what I read in the KAL group gradient yarn packages are very popular this year. At the moment I'm still torn between two options: the blue combination of Old Maiden Aunt (pictured above) or the combination of these Welsh yarns pictured below. I guess I'll see what inspiration hits me when the pattern arrives in the mailbox.

The first clue  will arrive today. I don't think I'll be one of the fast knitters but I'll try to pop in here showing how far I've gotten. Let me know if any of you are planning to participate as well! If you do decide to join, but don't want to be spoiled with the result you might not want to read my upcoming posts regarding this KAL. I'll make sure posts regarding the KAL will have something in the title that will mark it as such and I'll put a warning at the beginning of each post just to be sure.

I'm going on an adventure!!!!



Yarns of 2014

January 13, 2015

In 2014 I tried many new yarns, and though I mention most of them in the project posts when I used them, I thought it be fun to do a sort of yarn wrap up post specifically for these yarns. It helped me get a clear view of what I thought of them and who knows, maybe they will help you with forming an opinion about these yarns as well. I think I'm getting better with choosing suitable yarn and knowing what I like and don't like. Out of all the new yarns I tried, there is only one I probably won't use again. Here we go!

1. Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumperweight 

I only tried Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumperweight this year, and it was definitely a success! I used it for four projects already, and I've worn them a lot. The yarn has become a favourite of mine and I can see myself using it a lot more in the future. I first came into contact with it through Kate Davies' blog and then started noticing it while browsing Fair Isle projects on Ravelry. After hearing a lot of praise about this yarn on blogs, Ravlery and in books, I made up my mind to try it.

 It comes in an amazing range of colours, from solids, to more complex, heathery shades. The yarn is woollen-spun, so it holds together nicely. It blooms beautifully after blocking. From what I've seen from vintage garments using Shetland wool, it is very durable as well. Because of the huge choice of colours and the nature of the yarn it's perfect for stranded colourwork. Since that happens to be my favourite knitting technique, I guess it is no surprise that I instantly loved this yarn.

Projects I made with it this year:

1. Hairst Cardigan
2. Mini fox for my brother
3. Puffin Sweater
4. Foxglove ( this project is still on the needles)

2. Alice Starmore Hebridean 4ply

 Another yarn that is perfect for stranded colourwork, I first heard about this yarn through Alice Starmore's books. Alice Starmore is another knitting hero of mine, and her books contain a wealth of information. I wanted to try the yarn for years, but thought it wasn't available outside the UK. Later I found out, almost by accident, that it was available worldwide, and joy spread through the Treehouse. This is a sticky yarn, which makes it even better for colourwork and the colour range is quite good. What gives this yarn an extra personal touch is that each of the yarns and each of the different colourways has a unique story about the inspiration for the colour. Usually, this is a short story inspired by Alice's Gaelic and Hebridean background. Personally I love details such as these. The yarn comes in small skeins of 25 grams. I believe this is done intentionally, as colourwork often only requires little amounts, but from many different colours.

The project I made with this yarn is Tantallon.

3. Jamieson & Smith Heritage

I received this yarn as part of the Toatie Hottie kit this time last year. The Heritage yarn was developed in a collaboration between Jamieson & Smith and the Shetland Museum. The aim was to recreate the yarn that was historically used in Shetland to make garments. The Heritage yarn is very different from the 2ply jumper weight. It's a worsted-spun yarn instead of woollen-spun which both sets it apart and probably accounts for most of the differences. The Heritage is softer than the Jumperweight and also slightly thinner, probably due to its smoother nature. I've not had any problems with pilling. I'm eager to try this yarn for something more substantial, like a garment.

I used this yarn for Toatie Hottie.

4. Drops Karisma

I was surprised to find that I've never used Drops Karisma before. I've used Drops yarns a lot, especially when I just started knitting. Due to its availability and its affordability it is one of the most popular yarn brands in my country. Therefore it surprised me to find that I only now got around to using this specific yarn of theirs. It's a 100% wool superwash, even so I've never put it in the washing machine, not necessarily because I don't trust Drops to make a proper superwash but I don't trust any 100% wool project to not felt in the washing machine. So far I've had some pilling, but nothing ridiculous giving it's price. The colours range Karisma comes in is decent, but not mind blowing. All in all, a good workhorse yarn I'd say.

This yarn was used for Porridge and Honey.

5. Finlandia Shetland

I think this yarn is only available in the Netherlands, in one specific store, as it's specifically made for them in Scotland. It is available in loads of colours, solids, heathers and tweedy yarns. It's a fingering weight and woollen spun. The downside to this yarn is that you can only buy it in 50g balls, so when you only need little amounts of yarns, for colourwork for example, you'll have a lot left. If you do more colourwork projects that is not so much of a problem, but if you only do them occasionally you might not want so much left overs. Other than that I'm pretty happy with this yarn, which is again very suitable to use for stranded colourwork. I'm starting to sense a theme here.

Project made with this yarn: Sheepheid

6. Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted

Out of all the yarns I tried this year, this is the one I'm least happy with. While Malabrigo is one of my favourite yarn brands, I do not understand the popularity of this particular yarn. The yarn is nice enough to work with, incredibly soft and knits up quickly, however the durability is not fantastic. I used it for a shawl and it started pilling incredibly after one wear. These days some parts of the shawl almost look felted, which is not a look I aimed for. As I mentioned in the post about the shawl, I suspected this to happen. However, I wanted to try it anyway, because it is just so popular and many knitters use it. Therefore, I wanted to give it a chance. While I still wear it around the house, and when taking a walk outside, I hesitate to wear it anywhere else. I guess it is not as bad as I've made it sound like, but it is definitely below my expectation of the yarn. I think many of the issues are cased by its unplied nature. I have used Malabrigo Sock, a plied yarn, before and praise it to the sky precisely because even though I worn it on uncountable occasions it still looks as new. I will probably not use this yarn again. Next time I'll probably use Malabrigo Rios, which is a plied version of the same yarn and probably doesn't suffer the same issues.

I used this yarn for The Bonnie Bonnie Banks.

7. Rowan Kid Classic  

 One of the more popular Rowan yarns, it has been in their collection for years. It's a combination of Lambswool: 70%, Kid Mohair: 22%, Polyamide: 8%. Normally I don't pick yarns with such a mixed fibre content. I had to get used to it, as to me it felt a bit strange while knitting with it ( not very woolly, nor very soft). It does soften quite a bit after blocking. So far the yarn has not shed at all, but due to it's high level of fuzzyness it does create a nice little halo around the knitted fabric. The yarn is very sticky making it more suitable for colourwork projects instead of textured or cabled knits. I made a cabled hat with it, but due to the fuzzyness and halo effect of the yarn the stitches of the tree pattern are less visible than I would like it to be. I have worn the hat a lot already as I do like the halo effect, and the yarn is very soft. However if I were to use this yarn again I'd probably pick a more suited project to the yarn, one without much texture.

I used this yarn for my Bough hat.

8. Foula Wool

I'm so used to wearing my Tea Jenny hat, that I almost had forgotten that I only made the hat, and subsequently got to know Foula wool this year! I'm quite surprised about that.
I loved knitting with this yarn. It is Shetland wool and has a lot of the characteristics that I love in other Shetland wool that I've worked with. It's perfect for stranded colourwork, an by now you'll probably have guessed that this is one of the most important things I judge a yarn on. The yarn has a springy and bouncy quality to it as well, and a gives a gives a clear stitch definition. This makes me think that it would be suited to cables or a textured design as well. The yarn comes in natural sheep colours only. Personally I love sheep colours and to me it makes Foula extra special and more linked to the island and nature there. However if you're not into them, you could try dying some of the yarn yourself? In any case I loved working with this yarn and think it has a special story to boot. I'd like to think that knitting has made me feel more connected to places I otherwise would not know about or feel little connection with. It is something I've been thinking about a lot and I might write a post on that topic later. In any case, Foula wool is one of those yarns that I'd very much like to use again.

 Foula wool comes from a tiny island in Shetland. I was interested in small and independent yarn companies before I encountered Foula, but it's safe to say that after I knitted with this yarn something in my knitting life was set in motion. Since then I've been on the lookout for more yarn companies and small farms from different (special) places. It started as a joke between me and some knitting friends: "lets see from which other tiny remote Island we can get yarn" to something more serious.  My boyfriend often claims that it's my life goal to knit a bit from every desolated island or area in the Northern Hemisphere. Which I think, as far as life goals go, is not such a bad one, aye?

I used this yarn for my Tea Jenny Hat.

Phew, those are all the new yarns I tried in 2014. I have to admit it where a lot more than I initially thought. I knew I tried some, but it was not until I listed them all that I realised quite how many new yarns I used. It's nice to live in a world where we have all these options. We can order yarn from Shetland, Uruguay, Iceland and indeed even tiny remote islands with less inhabitants than the building I live in. It's truly a wonderful thing. If 2015 is going to be half as good when it comes to yarns than it will be a very good year.

Have you tried any new and exciting yarns? Or know a great yarn company/dyer that I do not know about (but should)? Feel free to let me know in the comments! 



Craft Ambitions for 2015

January 06, 2015

We're a couple of days into January, so it's time I share with you my craft ambitions for 2015.
These are things I'm excited to do in the months to come. I'm curious to see how much of it actually will be done come December next year. I'm not super strict with these ambitions, I've come to accept that sometimes time simply does not allow for everything I want to do, especially since the coming half year will be busier than ever. I don't want to be to harsh on myself by having unrealistic expectations. More importantly however is that I've come to accept that my tastes change and I ought to go with that. There is no use in forcing myself to plough on with something I'm not enjoying. I learned from my knitting only makes things worse. Having said that, I do think it's good to have a bit of a focus in what I want to do. We'll see next year, whether I've done all this, perhaps I've done less and maybe...just maybe even more.



- Make one project from the book Yokes by Kate Davies.
- Make one jumper/cardigan with colourwork all over.
- Make one jumper/cardigan without colourwork.
- Make a jumper/cardigan in Icelandic yarn
- Make a jumper/cardigan in Shetland yarn
- Make a garment using my colourwork motifs books 

- Finish one shawl by Lucy Hague
- Make a pair of mittens

- Try new yarns: so many unique wool spinners to try.
- Knit with beads: truly a new frontier for me to cross into.
- Make four (or more) projects with yarn from my stash
Let's define stash as yarn bought before 1-1-2015 or received as a gift.

Other crafts:
- Sew more, and try to pace sew time
- Sew with knits
Make a doll
- Try making jewellery
- Do some small embroidery projects 

Blog/Social Media: 

- Blog more regularly, aim to blog once a week.
- Leave more comments.
- Be more social on social media.

So there we have it. Have you made any goals or plans for the new year?

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