Colours of Norway!

I came back from an amazing long weekend trip to Oslo! I feel so inspired! Something about winter and fresh falling snow make for spectacular colour inspiration.

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The red of Scandinavia ( or Norwegian Red) is beautiful but looks even better against an icy snow white, some charcoal black, a bit of blue grey and why not add a bit of golden yellow ochre of a kanelbolle, which are so delicious!

So many photos to look at and pull out colours! I started making groupings of potential colour way palettes with shade cards I made of my collection of Claudia Hand Painted Fingering Addiction and paper collages from printed copies of my photos and magazine clippings I brought back with me. I usually pull skeins of yarn when I'm in a shop to start creating an arranging a palette sometimes with a photo but usually I just start with colours I'm drawn to. The process of using the shade cards was an improved method over my previous skein pulling method as I could see, particularly with variegated yarns, how the color would look in bands. It is also a lot easier to move and shuffle shade cards than a lot of skeins of yarn! The paper collage method was interesting and surprisingly addicting! It was fun to cut and collage pieces and different colours together. What was really helpful was being able to play with proportion of colour. By trimming strips wider or narrower, I could play with adding a sliver of pop of colour that could be the contrast pattern yarn used for a few rows when knitting. I also tried to create gradients/ ombres with my paper photo collages which allowed me to play with how width each of my colour band. It will be interesting trying to match the colour palettes I created with my collages to actual shade cards- but I'm excited for that challenge and it's a more focused way of going about purchasing yarn!

Collaging Stars

I was inspired by looking at the various styles and sizes of eight point stars in Nordic knitting (particularly looking through the Selbuvotter book by Anne Bårdsgård). Each has a slight modification or flare that makes it unique and a unique identifier to the place it was created.

A glimpse at various pages from my sketchbook, a paper collage and a digitally made knitting chart

I thought it would be interesting to create my own version filling the interior of the star motif with a collage of different patterns & motifs common in the region. I created a diagonal entrelac design of repeating pattern bands feature different design elements like the Shetland OXO motif, chevrons and crosses. I used that design sketch as well as sketched charts to cut the "petals" or chevron shapes and collage into my star motif as well as tracing outlines of a potential star. From this I created a large and small scale collage star knitting charts  to knit some samples.

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I quite like the result. It reflects the similarities and history I've explored and sourced as inspiration as well as creating a visually interesting motif for pattern repeats of a new design.


Bårdsgård, A. (2016) Selbuvotter. Trondheim: Museumsforlaget.

Inspiration & History: Selvedge Magazine "Swatch" on Nordic Knitting

I always enjoy reading the "Swatch" section at the back of every issue of Selvedge Magazine. It's a chance to learn about a new textile technique and tradition that I'm not always aware of. This issue made giddy because the "Swatch" section was about none other than Nordic Knitting! How perfect! 

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It covers some of the history I've delved into, but focuses more on ties between Iceland and the UK. It added some more detail information about how places were connected (by trade and folk stories about trading ships) including some that I hadn't come across in my own reading pertaining to trade amongst Dutch, Swedish and German merchants (connection lines to add to my motif maps seen in previous posts). It also discusses the historical ties between Iceland and Denmark and subsequently the emergence of Lopapeysa or the Lopi yoke sweaters as a distinct independent knitting style and cultural identify of Iceland when it became independent.

I also love the illustration they chose to accompany the article. It is a nice mash up of various mitten knitting charts positioned in different directions. When I first saw it, it seemed like an interesting chart to try to knit ( not for a mitten but a general fabric pattern) because it payers so many different motifs with in different shapes that move or point in various directions. I might try adapting this idea for a new design of my own!


Downing, S.J. (2018) ' SWATCH Favourite Fabric No 40: Nordic Knitting', Selvedge Magazine, (Issue 80 Craft) pp. 96.

Inspiration: Selbuvotter

When you find a great book its hard not to become obsessed with it!

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That is exactly how I feel about this book Selbuvotter by Anne Bårdsgård. It is an amazing book filled with page after page of beautiful traditional Norwegian knitting chart pattens. I didn't have a concept of how many variations and styles of eight point stars in Norway! It is written in Norwegian ( I hope to find someone to help translate sections which cover history, tradition and inspiration) but charts are a universal language! I've gotten so much inspiration from this book for my own designs as well as my research tracing the history and motifs styles! 

Here is a taste of what is inside the Selbuvotter book (Bårdsgård 2016)

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Bårdsgård, A. (2016) Selbuvotter. Trondheim: Museumsforlaget.

Moving Beyond the Eight Point Star

The eight point star is the most omnipresent and obvious motif in the region. It has been a great case study to begin my research with since there is so many variations and styles out there! Don't worry, I'm not turning my back on the eight point star completely, however I think it time to explore some of the other motifs out there. The process of looking at all the beautiful motifs and reading about uniques aspects to different knitting traditions, I've stumbled upon other interesting motifs to highlight and explore. Remembering  Shelia McGregor in Traditional Fair Isle Knitting highlighting the concept that not only did motif patterns flow into Shetland from the Baltics but that Shetland inspired and sent their own motifs out to Scandinavia and the Baltics (pp. 22) ....this came to mind:

From the left:  two traditional Fair Isle knit caps from 1910 part of the Shetland Museum collection (photo number 01382), knit stocking hat from Mustjala parish in Saarema, Estonia part of the Eesti Rahva Muuseum (Estonian National Museum ERM A 290:263), knit hat also from Mustjala parish in Saarema, Estonia part of the Eesti Rahva Muuseum (Estonian National Museum ERM A 290: 267). Both Estonian hats seen in "Estonian Knitting 1 : Traditions and Techniques"  by Pink, Reimann, and Jõeste (pp.60 & 170).

The hats all share a decidedly similar resemblance with similar motif bands. This might be supporting evidence of McGregor's thought of motifs spreading from Shetland back eastward. This might be another interesting motif to explore creating a similar motif map and grid taxonomy. 

Looking closely at the Fair Isle hat alongside a pattern from a mitten from Halliste parish, Pärnumaa, Estonia (Estonian National Museum ERM A 509:2783, I saw this mitten pattern originally in Aino Praakli's book "Eesti Mustrid Ilma Laande Laiali" pp. 98) you can see a similar geometric shape/motif.


Reference:

McGregor, S. (2003). Traditional Fair Isle knitting. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover.

Shetland Museum (2002) Fair Isle caps photo number 01382. Available at: http://photos.shetland-museum.org.uk/index.php?a=ViewItem&key=SXsiTiI6Mjg5LCJQIjp7InZhbHVlIjoiQ0FQUyIsIm9wZXJhdG9yIjoiMSIsImZ1enp5UHJlZml4TGVuZ3RoIjoiMyIsImZ1enp5TWluU2ltaWxhcml0eSI6MC42NSwibWF4U3VnZ2VzdGlvbnMiOiI1IiwiYWx3YXlzU3VnZ2VzdCI6bnVsbH19&pg=4&WINID=1512922068837#cJfn2VGxnToAAAFgQS602w/124491 (Accessed: 10 December 2017).

Pink, A. and Reimann, S. and Jõeste, K. (2016) Estonian Knitting 1; Traditions and Techniques. Türi, Estonia: Saara Kirjastus. 1.

Eesti Rahva Muuseum ERM A 290: 263. Available at: https://www.muis.ee/museaalview/578740 (Accessed 10 December 2017).

Eesti Rahva Muuseum ERM A 290:267. Available at: https://www.muis.ee/museaalview/502511 (Accessed 10 December 2017).

Praakli, A. Eesti mustrid ilma laande laiali. Tallinn, Estonia: Tänapäev.

Eesti Rahva Muuseum ERM A 509: 2783. Available at:https://www.muis.ee/museaalview/502120 (Accessed 10 December 2017).

Nordic Eight Point Star Grid

While I love the seeing the motifs put into geographical context on a map, it is also nice to see them lined up in a grid to see the variation and similarities within a country and beyond. It also shows a progression of the eight point star shape from a motif made of eight parallelogram shapes to that of four chevron shapes and finally a solid polygonal shape.

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I arranged the motifs beginning with the Baltic countries and then moving westward as you move down. This movement reflects the generally agreed position that most motifs traveled from the east to the west. I also arranged the motifs within in each country following a similar progression starting with a star with distinct solid eight parallelogram petals/points with a either a small cross or square at the center to a eight point star consisting of four assembled chevron shapes and finally   (the other most common variation type) the solid eight point star shape with ornamented center of diamonds, squares and cross (or a combination) as seen below. 

Star organization pattern for each country

Star organization pattern for each country


Motif References:

Estonian motifs:

Praakli, Aino, Eesti mustrid ilma laande laiali. Tallinn, Estonia: Tänapäev.

Latvia motifs:

Grasmane, M. (2012) Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit. Riga: Riga National Costume Centre.

Lithuania motifs:

Nargi, L. (2011) Knitting Around the World: A multistranded history of a time-honored tradition. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press.

Selbu Norway motifs:

Selbu Bygdemuseum (2015) Strikkeutstilling. Available at: https://www.selbu.kommune.no/enheter/bygdemuseum/bygdemuseet/strikkeutstilling/Documents/The%20Selbu%20mitten.pdf Accessed: 9 November 2017.

Shetland motifs:

McGregor, S., (2003). Traditional Fair Isle knitting. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover.

pages 116-118

Denmark & Faroe Islands motifs:

McGregor, S. (1984) Traditional Scandinavian Knitting. Mineola,NY: Dover Publications Inc.

Iceland motifs:

Nargi, L. (2011) Knitting Around the World: A multistranded history of a time-honored tradition. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press.

Layering of Eight Point Star Map

I've added some of the sea trade routes that I have come across in my reading. I was inspired to put these routes in after seeing Jane Hunter's maps (I wrote about this in previous post).

Map of eight point star motifs (sourced from books) with some known sea trade routes

Map of eight point star motifs (sourced from books) with some known sea trade routes

Putting in these patterned lines (I used v's to to mimic knitting stitches but also provide direction of movement) illustrates these connections only really written about. It adds another layer of information to the map beyond the cultural information of the hybrid motif variations of how and  where the interactions occurred. This only covers the limited information that I have mostly on sea trade in context to the spread of this knitting technique. Shelia McGregor mentions in her book Traditional Scandinavian Knitting diffusion of motif patterns in mittens and gloves over land by trade routes in Norway and Finland. I have yet to find a map that would show roughly that path. Also missing are the motif representation for Finland and Sweden. These two countries, based on my reading, tended to copy motifs already in circulation from neighboring Norway and Estonia with  very little variation beyond colour. 

Lines/ routes made of v's to to mimic knitting stitches but also provide direction of movement. The Darker blue are routes from Shetland from a map from  Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting and the lighter blue lines represent routes written about in Shelia McGregor's Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.

Lines/ routes made of v's to to mimic knitting stitches but also provide direction of movement. The Darker blue are routes from Shetland from a map from  Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting and the lighter blue lines represent routes written about in Shelia McGregor's Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.

I chose to vary the colour of the lines to differentiate the source of the information but also the direction of which the routes originated from. The lighter blue lines are those originating from the Baltics ( sourced from Shelia McGregor's Traditional Scandinavian Knitting ) while the darker blue originate and stem out from Shetland (sourced from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting).


References:

Starmore, A. (2009) Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. 

McGregor, S. (1984) Traditional Scandinavian Knitting. Mineola,NY: Dover Publications Inc.

Motif References:

Estonian motifs:

Praakli, Aino, Eesti mustrid ilma laande laiali. Tallinn, Estonia: Tänapäev.

Latvia motifs:

Grasmane, M. (2012) Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit. Riga: Riga National Costume Centre.

Lithuania motifs:

Nargi, L. (2011) Knitting Around the World: A multistranded history of a time-honored tradition. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press.

Selbu Norway motifs:

Selbu Bygdemuseum (2015) Strikkeutstilling. Available at: https://www.selbu.kommune.no/enheter/bygdemuseum/bygdemuseet/strikkeutstilling/Documents/The%20Selbu%20mitten.pdf Accessed: 9 November 2017.

Shetland motifs:

McGregor, S., (2003). Traditional Fair Isle knitting. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover.

pages 116-118

Denmark & Faroe Islands motifs:

McGregor, S. (1984) Traditional Scandinavian Knitting. Mineola,NY: Dover Publications Inc.

Iceland motifs:

Nargi, L. (2011) Knitting Around the World: A multistranded history of a time-honored tradition. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press.

Eight Point Star Grids: Latvia

I think the charts for traditional mittens are quite beautiful and give insight into the process of charting patterns in the confines of a grid. These are a selection of mittens from Latvia (which I used to create the eight point star motif map in a previous post) features various hybrids of the eight point star displayed in grids organized by region. It is wonderful to see the number of hybrids in one region and similarities between parishes in different regions as well as the various layouts of this one motif.

Vidzeme

Kurzeme

Latgale

Augšzeme


References:

Grasmane, M. (2012) Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit. Riga: Riga National Costume Centre.

Heritage Messages

Looking at tradition also brings up the word "heritage", both having ties to a culture and place. Reading Riina Tomberg's book Vatt, Troi, Vamsa- Knitted Jackets from Western-Estonian Islands brought forward the concept of "heritage message" and its transient quality in the spreading cultural information from generation to generation as well as beyond the local location of a culture.  Tomberg sub divides "heritage message" into three groups that relate to the context or environment and then to group and/or individual.    

The conditions around heritage message can be divided into three groups the first of which contains social and cultural heritage environment, the second involves the person as a bearer of the heritage and third covers the factors embracing the meaning heritage...The conditions of the first group form the social context and functions of a tradition. The factors of the second group influence heritage message through the bearer. The continuation of the heritage message depends on the meaning of the message. (pp. 167) 

It is interesting to see how the factors of influence vary from group to group particularly how the meaning is influenced by the bearer. The concept of the bearer is interesting as the bearer of the motifs, the visual representation of a "heritage message" would be the influencer when arriving wearing a knitted garment. This relates to the idea and "folk stories" recorded by Starmore (Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting) and McGregor (Traditional Fair Isle Knitting) of Shetlanders being influenced by garments brought over from sailors as trade and trying to copy them to add to their knitting pattern vernacular. It also ties into the idea presented in reading Lucy R Lippard's The Lure of the Local about elements like motifs being like ingredients that influence as well as undergo changes in mixing with another culture to become a hybrid (Lippard pp. 6). 

The idea that, "The continuation of the heritage message depends on the meaning of the message." (Tomberg pp 167) is striking because it echoes that for a motif like the eight point star to have such wide use and popularity over the region it is a motif/ symbol that resonates with many people and cultures, and still resonates today. This could be a sign of a "collective heritage".


References:

Lippard, L.R., (1997). The lure of the local : senses of place in a multicentered society. New York : New Press, c1997.

Tomberg, R. (2013) Vatt, Troi, Vamsa- Knitted Jackets from West-Estonian Islands. Tallinn, Estonia: Eesti Kunstiakadeemia.

Crossing/ Blurring Borders

When visually unpacking all the similarities and hybrid variations of motifs like the eight-point star through mapping and taxonomies, it's hard not to think that these motifs defy the construct of a border.

 

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Lucy R. Lippard breaks about the concept and construct of borders in a sense and connection to a place in this quote from Kent Ryden about a map of an area in Mississippi,

He points out [ Kent Ryden] that Faulkner’s famous map of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, complete with references to events in his novels, ‘demonstrates a keen awareness of the way terrain absorbs and recalls history, of the way narrative is an unstated component of any map and thus of any landscape.’ It is all center, which can be read as a metaphor for its lack of borders, its extension of the local into the global on one hand, or the local focus inward, on the other. (Lippard pp.76)

The fact and visual tracing of these motifs demonstrate on a map that borders in the the concept of visual traditional culture (knitting traditions) are simply a geographical or cartographical construct and that there is cultural fluidity and transient in this aspect of the "local cultural landscape". This fluidity of motifs demonstrates a means of creating a larger "cultural landscape" that formed of a region, the nordic region. 

Place is most often examined from the subjective viewpoint of individual or community, while ‘region’ has traditionally been more of an objective geographic center surrounded by ‘an area where nature acts in a roughly uniform manner’. Today region is generally understood not as a politically or geographically delimited space but one determined by stories, loyalties, group identity, common experiences, and histories (often unrecorded), a state of mind rather than a place on a map. Perhaps the most accurate definition of a region, although the loosest, is Michael Steiner’s; ‘ the largest unit of territory about which a person can grasp ‘the concrete realities of the land’ or which be contained in a person’s genuine sense of place’ (Lippard pp. 34).

This region from this cultural map I've created is linked by the visual symbol and knitting language and culture, a "visual story", that creates a larger sense of common identity.


References:

Lippard, L.R., (1997). The lure of the local: senses of place in a multicentered society. New York : New Press.

Map Motif references:

Grasmane, M. (2012) Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit. Riga: Riga National Costume Centre.

McGregor, S. (2003). Traditional Fair Isle knitting. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover.

McGregor, S. (1984) Traditional Scandinavian Knitting. Mineola,NY: Dover Publications Inc.

Nargi, L. (2011) Knitting Around the World: A multistranded history of a time-honored tradition. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press.

Praakli, A. Eesti mustrid ilma laande laiali. Tallinn, Estonia: Tänapäev.

Selbu Bygdemuseum (2015) Strikkeutstilling. Available at: https://www.selbu.kommune.no/enheter/bygdemuseum/bygdemuseet/strikkeutstilling/Documents/The%20Selbu%20mitten.pdf (Accessed: 9 November 2017).

 

Latvia Star Map

Similar to Estonia, neighboring Latvia also has distinct patterns for each of its many parishes. I chose to create a map of the various eight-point stars as I did with Estonia as these countries have patterns that have been well organized by location as in the number of designs in existence..

latvia star map.jpg

I was able to obtain this data of stars and locations from the book Mittens of Latvia: 178 Traditional Designs to Knit by Maruta Grasmune. In the book Grasmune makes the comment about designs being unique to cultural identity and local identity but also connected to the larger region (Scandinavia, nordic countries) and globally. 

The symbolic language of mittens incorporates not only characteristics of the Latvian worldview but also elements/ features representing the perspectives of other nations. In the modern globalization era, one of the shared ‘codes’ by which we can understand each other is the symbolic language of mittens. Latvia’s mitten colours differ from those used on the Island of Sarema or in Iceland. But in the patterns of the mittens themselves there is much more of what we have in common than what separates us.(pp.x)

Latvians have a very poetic sense in talking about the language of the symbolism of their mittens designs as well as  how they are relate to the to the wider cultural landscape (nordic region) as seen in this quote. This is the first instance that I have seen a direct statement of designs and patterns being part of a shared history or language. In other reading, most traditions and cultures present their history in relation to patterns of cultural identity with a brief vague statement that influences may have come from trade with other places in the region. While every culture wants to present itself and its visual identity as unique, through this research and particularly creating these maps brings back the idea that there is a larger connection between these various cultures seen in this one field of practice, colourwork knitting.  Even though there is an obvious similarity seen, most evident with the motif of the eight-point star, the "hybridity" that has occurred when these motifs encountered its new culture or place create unique variations or better yet a variety of hybrids.


References: