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!
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!)
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:
Tuulia’s class sample and my humble beginnings on the double pointed needles – knit in three colors of Knit Picks Palette yarn.
My classmate, Karen, knitting her mitten. This was her first foray into stranded colorwork and she just jumped right in and had great results!
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!
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:
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!