Friday, August 31, 2012

Finished Shawls

I'm back in the States again, but I have photos from Iceland and Norway to fill a dozen more blog post. Here's something from my everyday life instead, three projects I finished before I left and just got the time to block.

 This shawl is a local yarn from Glenwood Springs in a yummy mustard yellow, I used a pattern from Fickle Knitter that was simple and quick (I did most of this while driving to North Dakota for a bike ride.) The lace seems to have disappeared because of my insanely tight knitting, if I make this pattern again I will bump up the needle size even more.

 I also completed the Fancy Tiger Knit-a-long project, a Maenad in bright ass colors! It was a perfect use of my Noro stash, as the slow striping worked well with the very long rows. The lace trim was Malabrigo. I'm making another one, but once more I'm going to up the needle size to make up for my very tight guage.
And look at the wingspan on this thing! I blocked it on my four-seat couch and it still hung off the arms a little. The ends are great for tying and tossing over shoulders.
 This is a simple scarf made with a sinfully soft alpaca yarn from Mountain Knits in Driggs Idaho. The fiber was grown up there, then milled and dyed at a family joint in New Mexico. It's going to be a gift for someone (not sure who yet!).
 I've been back to sewing for my Etsy shop, and knitting away in school. My needles are hungry! I also need to work thru the ginormous bag of yarn I brought back from Iceland (it was cheap!) What have you finished lately? Is it too soon to be knitting winter treats or Yule-time gifts?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Icelandic Fibercraft II

 More from the Icelandic National Museum.

This is a reconstruction of the types of homes used from the early modern period into the 20th century. The walls are lined with beds, and during cold days the whole family would sit inside. You can see there was spinning of course, but many other handicrafts were made. The bones and horns on the floor were likely used as toys, Icelandic children have a system of using different shaped bones to be different farm animals and buildings. (Yes, a little creepy. Yes, I will be giving my children a set of sheep bones for toys)
These elaborate ribbons are tablet weaving. After a very complex step of threading the cards one simply rotates the whole block of them, twining the threads and creating patterns. This is an art that makes me wonder - how did they come up with this?!
 Knitting was common of course, these are stocking forms used to create uniform sizes for export. On a small farm one would have to engage in a variety of industries, not only for subsistence but also for trade.
 This is bobbin lace. This set of tools belonged to a wealthier woman, likely in a city. Bobbin lace was very popular during the Edwardian and Victorian eras so it was likely made in smaller quantities by country folk as well.
 There were no artifacts related to embroidery, but we know that it must have been done, the "folk costume" has extensive embroidery. These colorful examples are all goldwork, and all made by the same women.

These styles of top is seen thruout Norse lands, with each region having distinctive motifs. All of the lovely clasp are silver wire work.
 Here's an older example with a cut lace apron on top. These are silk threads on wool.
 And here is some more modern examples of Icelandic "costume". An exhibit on local couture dating back to the twenties.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Icelandic Fibercrafts

Here's more artifacts for you fiber nerds...

A shoe made of woven cloth, a nallbinded (nallbound? nallbindinged?) mitten c. 11th century. Nallbinding is a technique that uses a darning needle and short pieces of yarn to make loops. The finished product resembles knitting, but is much sturdier as the loops will not unravel if one is broken. It predates knitting, and in fact knitting was not seen in Iceland at this time.
 Some appliqued embroidery work, many of the little bits are exotic velvets and silks. The rings are gilded leather set down with silver thread.
 Very detailed work with gold couching. Love it or hate it, religion causes people to make amazing things! These were vestments for priest made soon after the Christianization of the nation.
 Woven tapestries with religious and folk motifs. The nearest one is featured in a book I picked up which includes patterns, and I saw a simplified reproduction hanging in an embroidery shop.
 Knitting arrived on the island in the 16th century, and quickly became common. Warm goods made from woven fabrics are often clunky and stiff. These are sealskin shoes lined with a knit insole, a very cute one I might add!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Grave Goods and Goodies

We visited the National Museum in Reykjavik and spent some time exploring the collections. They are very proud of their settlement heritage and had wonderful displays.

These are all the Grave Goods of women, Vikings were generally buried with items they may need in the afterlife - from practical tools and clothing to horses and dogs. We can see how people lived by their graves, as it was expected that they would continue with the same activities in the underworld.
 These items are from a woman's grave in the 10th century. The large metal brooches held an apron across the front of her tunic and had a third piece strung between them. Jewelry is made of amber, rock crystal, and glass with metal. Combs are made of bone. There are scythes, scissors and a wool comb.
 These are brooches of metal and bone. The penannular rings are a Celtic design and probably traded. There were also buttons found at the sites, but they were used solely for decoration not for fastening.
 Here are grind stones for grains (barley is about the only grin that grows in Iceland's climes) and cooking pots. The iron pot is somewhat rare, most pots of that era are carved soapstone. Soapstone is not found in Iceland, so these were brought over from Norway - rich grave goods indeed!
 Here are more grave goods (and house excavations) for women's work. The round stones are spindle whorls, the large ones are rocks for a warp weighted loom (pic below). The large piece is a whale bone beater for weaving, the small bones are sheep for winding thread to weave with. A very ornate iron needle case and whetstones (also from Norway due to geology) for sewing work.
 These are samples of the finely made homespun cloth, including some pattern work. The fabric does not usually survive well, this bits were protected by one of the large oval brooches against the ravages of time.

Notice the braid of yarn and the hanging rocks. This simple loom style was used in the far north of Europe thru the 19th century, it is easy to build and one can simply gather stones suitable for drilling to make the warp system. These are all volcanic rock, native Icelandic.

There's a lot more interesting fiber craft goodies, more to come in my next post!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Old Gods New Gods

The Icelanders seem to be proud of having converted peacefully to Christianity. At a meeting of the Althing in 1000 it was decreed that having two religions and two sets of laws would bring strife, and so the Heathens would convert, but still be able to practice their old faith privately. It was an odd compromise...

Despite the long Christian history, many traces of the old ways remain.
 That "P" looking thing is a "th" sound, thus Thorsgata.

 We were staying at Lokastigur in the Loki guesthouse, next to the Loki Cafe. No trickery yet tho...
This slow conversion also kept most of the old Norse Mythology intact here in Iceland. The Eddas are the collected tales of ancient people and their gods, the most accurate versions passed down until writing became common. A political conversion was good for historians as well...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Welcome to Iceland!

Blog post have been sparse lately, I've been preparing a trip to Iceland and Norway! Yesterday we arrived in Reykjavik, and after a ride from the airport into town we were dropped in front of this
 Yep, our guesthouse was less than one block from this crazy looking church - Hallsgr√≠mkirkja. Heck of a way to start your morning.
 Once it opened up (yes, we were there that early) we went inside and marveled in the huge art-deco building. Very modern and yet paying homage to classic cathedrals.
There was this fabulous pipe organ as well, all 25 tons of it! The sound in this place is amazing...
 Out front we spotted this unusual monument, a statue of Liefur Erikson (not so strange in itself) "Donated by the U.S. Government in honor of the Millennial of the Althing". I was also surprised to see him carrying a cross, what kind of Viking explorer has that?
I did some looking, seems he was on his way to Christianize Greenland when he got distracted by a merchants story and went off to find North America. His father Erik the Red did not take to Christianity, nor it seems did many Greenlanders.

It took 38 years to build the church, starting in 1945. It's enough of a landmark (and it happens to sit on the high point in town) that many museums used it for scale in diagrams.
I'll be posting updates from my travels whenever I stop to take a breather...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fair Time Again!

This week the Denver County Fair is returning to the National Western grounds. I'll be there along with hundreds of local crafters, artist, fashionistas, goats, carnies, farmers, bakers, dag queens, musicians and more! All you Coloradans, come see me!