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Finnish-ing School
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Finnish-ing School

Through this blog and through the web knitting community, I have met some wonderful Finns, among many other people all over the world.  I have learned more about Finland through blogs, posts, and photographs.  I already wanted to travel to Finland, but I have to say that after actually meeting a wonderful Finn, and learning even more about Finnish culture and textiles, I am ready to pack my bags!

The Nordic Knitting Conference was absolutely great.  Taking classes with Tuulia even greater!

Tuulia and Lolly

Lucky Lolly had a full day with this knitter/designer extraordinaire.  Friday started with a long bus ride and my own personal tour-by-bus through Seattle on my way up to the Nordic Heritage Museum.  Once I got to building, I registered and peeked around looking for my classroom.  Tuulia and I talked a few times before class, and we read each others’ blogs (she is in Project Spectrum!) but this was our first time meeting.  I walked into the auditorium and there was Tuulia!  …and she was wearing this!  and I gasped! (yes, all of the drama is completely warranted!)

Tuulia's amazingly beautiful awesomely lovely gorgeous skirt

Seriously people. Get a load of that.  She knit it in a week specifically for this conference.  The stranding at the bottom is based off of two traditional Finnish mitten patterns with the added braids.  So she did that and just kept knitting until she had a beautiful skirt.  She sure can churn out the amazingness (check out her “Northern Lights” shawl!).  She designed even more things – like the two class projects!

The first class, Finnish Mitten Design, went so well.  Tuulia shared a table full of beautiful mittens in traditional patterns, and then unveiled the special mitten pattern for our class.  The patterning on the cuff is based on an embroidery design from the region of Karelia.  She framed this piece with vikkel braids in two colors, and then moved into the simple traditional stranded pattern for the main mitten piece.  Take a look at this beauty:

Finnish Mitten Class Design

Tuulia’s class sample and my humble beginnings on the double pointed needles – knit in three colors of Knit Picks Palette yarn.

Karen's Hands Knitting

My classmate, Karen, knitting her mitten.  This was her first foray into stranded colorwork and she just jumped right in and had great results!

Mitten beginnings!

Oh vikkel braid.  I have read about you in Nancy Bush’s books – it is an Estonian and Finnish technique – and I had no idea how to do it until Tuulia showed me in class.  Now I want to try it all the time!

The mittens will take me a little while because I have several other projects on the needles.  I teased that this is more likely to become a knitted oven mitt since I am unlikely to knit two full mittens.  However, they are so beautiful that a pair really would be nice (but almost too pretty to wear!)

The afternoon class, Finnish Textile Traditions,  was more of a history and storytelling session about Finland, some elements of the culture, and lots of information about traditional textiles.  Tuulia talked about the sheep breeds in Finland, handspinning and the equipment used, weaving, embroidery and needle arts, ryas, and about knitting and crochet.  Like so many countries with early textile traditions, things were created for a function and a purpose, and it was not until much later that items took on a more decorative element.  Lace, stranded colorwork, special embroidery additions:  all of these things are known in Finland’s traditional textiles. My favorite part of Tuulia’s presentation was on her research of the Saami, the indigenous people in northern Finland and through Scandinavia.  She shared some of her experiences of working with the Saami as a historian.  It was so fascinating.  I hope we have the chance to sit together again, I want to hear more stories!

Finnish Handwoven Textile

[Full Conference Photo Set Here]

One of my classmates brought in a handwoven textile heirloom for analysis.  Her family was Finnish and she wanted Tuulia’s opinion on origins.

Although I have not started on the class project for this class (alas, no picture!) Tuulia adapted a well-known Finnish pattern to a pair of ladies stockings.  She put together the pattern and I am looking forward to starting it in the beautiful green yarn I showed last time.  The lace stitching looks similar to dragon scales, so I think the lightly variegated green will be perfect!  You can see the finished socks on Tuulia’s blog.

What a wonderful day!  I felt so inspired after seeing her work and learning more about Finland.  Thank you Tuulia!  let’s meet again (stop by DC en route to Finland!)

During the lunch break, I walked through some of the galleries at the museum:

Norwegian Stockings

Viking Boat Reproduction

Handcarved Viking Sculpture

In the process of peeking, I spied a certain Ms. Nancy Bush :)   That was a nice surprise, and I talked to her and thanked her personally for the great interview I got back in 2006. I hear her classes went quite well – she did a series of Estonian lace classes on two days of the conference.

The Nordic Heritage Museum was a wonderful place, and they are planning to continue the Nordic Knitting Conference in the future.  There was some talk about moving the dates to the fall.  Either way, I would love to go again and learn more about this region of the world and the beautiful textiles that come from it.  As you know, I was already a fan of yoked sweaters and stranded colorwork – so I have plenty of inspiration to knit more and more of these Nordic patterns now!

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24 Responses

  1. felinemagnet

    What an awesome experience! I can’t wait to see your finished projects. Tuulia’s work is very inspiring. I didn’t even know there was a Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. I have a fascination with the Northwest Indian tribal artwork and enjoyed some of that when I was out there many years ago.

  2. Poppins

    What a marvelous recap of a great experience. Thank you for sharing it, L.

  3. Aponi

    LOL! I took the same picture of the knitted sock wall! I’ve always wanted to make the mittens, but I know I would never wear them – but the socks! Well, that’s a different story! I am also going to do a sampler afghan, because I like doing cables but I don’t need another cabled sweater. Third on the list is a handspun icelandic shawl. I’ve been so inspired by that museum!

  4. Kim

    This looked like a great conference! Tuulia’s skirt is a marvelous thing to behold, as is that wall o’ socks. I would love to visit this museum. Looking forward to more posts of Nordic knitting and Seattle.

  5. Josiane

    It sounds like it was very interesting! Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

  6. Aunt Kathy

    ooh I like that braid look, how do you do that? Awesome

  7. Ingrid

    I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to meet you at the conference, but it was great, wasn’t it? I did 2 Nancy bush classes, and learnt massive amounts…

  8. Birgitte

    Oh, that sounds like a great experience! Thanks for sharing :)

  9. Mia

    Thanks for sharing! It sounds like a wonderful time. I was an exchange student in Seattle, and now you got me dreaming of returning for a visit, “accidentally” at the same time as the festival next time ;)

  10. Hege

    Looks like you had a wonderful time!

  11. terhi

    I’m glad you enjoyed the knitting conference, it sounds really fun! Thanks for sharing, Lauren! :-)

  12. lucy

    Oh, that was fun.

  13. Anne

    Wow! Sounds like a fantastically educational class. Thanks for the recap and all the pictures. I am particularly fond of the fern-frond curl on that viking boat.

  14. stacey

    How fun! Submerged in all that Finnish tradition!

  15. LittleWit

    Wow her work is amazing. I can’t wait to see your renditions. I think we may have to add this museum to our to do list for Seattle. :)

  16. Wendy

    Thanks for the inside peek at the conference! And that skirt – definitely warranted drama!

  17. amanda

    Lolly, what a great trip! Those knits are just amazing. I’ve always been amazed by colorwork and what a beautiful finished product it makes. Hope you make it to Finland!

  18. Tuulia

    Great pictures! (Clearly, though, I need to lose some weight :D )

    I had so much fun, I enjoyed your company immensely! I can’t wait to see your mittens finished! :)

    About the skirt, I knitted it top down, so the stranded bit was the last thing I knitted. I was sick of stranding by the end of it (300 sts/row in stranded will do that to you), but the end result is really nice. I’ve worn it three times this week, and I already have plans for my next knitted skirt. And I’m not even a skirt person :D

    Thank you so much for the great time on Friday. I can’t wait to meet you again! And as I said, if you’re coming to Finland, you’re always welcome to my house. (In fact, I insist you come and visit!)



  19. Nicole

    Thanks for the wonderful description of what sounds like an amazing experience. I wish I had been there in person, but this lovely post is probably the next best thing.

    And oh, the beautiful knitting!

  20. moiraeknittoo

    I’m totally bummed that I’m behind on my bloglines and didn’t realize you’d be in town! I wish I’d been able to meet you while you were here. BUT! It wounds like you had a marvelous time and I hope to be able to make plans and actually attend this the next time they have it. Now, where did I put that hand dyed Finnish mitten kit?

  21. Jenna

    This really seals it, I NEED to get over to that museum. I’m so glad that the conference was worthwhile for you – sounds like you learned a lot AND made a new friend! I do hope that you finish (and wear!) those beautiful mittens at some point. The socks are gorgeous as well, be sure to show a pic of them soon.

    Hope you’re settling back in ok! Missing you here xoxo

  22. little_lj

    I’m in awe IN AWE of those mittens… I’m sooo knitting some of those in time for next winter!

  23. Ühltje

    Oh Lolly, I’m sure your mitts will turn out beautiful. And you have given me a great idea: Trying stranded knitting on a pair of ovenmitts. Our new kitchen is nearing completion and that would be a very nice personal touch.Do you think I should use cotton for safety?

  24. mary jane

    Oh, my mom told me about this conference, I so wished I could go. Lucky you!

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