Saturday, October 11, 2014

Skagen Part One: Art and Knitting in Art

I will do my best to describe Skagen. It is the northernmost point in Denmark, in Jutland. It was a major fishing port in the past. It is surrounded by the Skagerrak on the east near Norway, and the Kattegat on the west, near Sweden.

It is a place of immense beauty and light. We drove there from Aarhus, the commuter train arriving more quickly than we did

A big draw to Mom and myself is the art culture in Skagen.  The Skagen Painters, Skagensmalerne, were a group of painters who retreated in Skagen in the summer from the late 1870's until the turn of the century. Much of their work was painted en plain air and their influences included the Impressionists and the Social Realism movements of the time. Some of their work is included at the Skagen Museum. Famous names from this group included: Anna and Michael Ancher, Peder Severin Kroyer, Marie Kroyer, Karl Madsen, Laurits Tuxen, Carl Locher, and Viggo Johansen. The artists would gather at Brøndum's Hotel and eat together in the dining room where they added their art to panels in the wall.

During World War II the paintings were removed as the Germans used the dining room as a gymnasium. In 1946 the walls of the dining room with the paintings in the panels were moved to the Skagen Museum, where we viewed them. 

Perhaps the most famous painting produced by this group was P.S. Kroyer's Summer evening on Skagen Beach

As the artists in this group were painting real people in true life situations, there was much depiction of women's work including sheep shearing, knitting, and  hand knits; here are some that I viewed


After our trip, we learned that my 3 Great Grandfather, Rasmus Pederson, drowned in 1851 (in a different part of Denmark) which made this painting, The Drowned Fisherman by Michael Ancher, more poignant….(this is a section of the painting)

Hmm,, a shawl recreation idea here...

 Michael Ancher (another shawl recreation concept)

Anna Ancher

Anna Ancher

Marie Kroyer

And of course some not seen but found online

Michael Ancher

Michael Ancher

There are so many more...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Afghans for Afghans or…nothing like a deadline...

You may recall that there was a dyeing effort earlier this year to dye some fiber for Afghans for Afghans knitting so that there would be no white yarn with which to knit. 

In late summer, I somehow recalled that S, J and I had been working on Mary's yarn for Afghans for Afghans, and I decided to check the DEADLINE!  Why yes…September 8th (I think I figured this out around or about Aug 31st.

So  I had completed some items but not yet sewn them up…on the 31st J kept me company while I wielded the sewing machine to sturdily do my finishing.  Socks and mittens were favored over hats...Here are results

Two needle socks with seam on top

Two Needle Cable Mittens  (quite love this pattern, wish I lived somewhere cold so I could knit them for myself!)

And here is the poignant part…Mary had started to knit an Irish sweater (source of the rest of the yarn) before she became ill. I stitched up the 14" of the bottom of the sweater (all that she had knit) into a hat sort of shape. Later that week I used some commercial dye on it, so that it would not be "white." It definitely lost some of it's creamy white Irish yarn loveliness, but it will be used by someone who needs it this winter!


Below is a pattern that I "unvented" (thanks, Elizabeth Z) using not Mary's yarn, but some lovely handspun pink stuff that I bought at the Saturday farmer's market in Montpelier Vermont, long before all the other states including mine were doing it, plus some churro handspun. For a little girl, perhaps...

Here is someone (J?) being a bit silly

Sent off in the nick of time…but there is  more  yarn for next year!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Denmark Part 3 Aarhus and the Gotland sheep of Lindholm Høye

 An interesting part of our trip prep was that I had two make online two reservations in Danish of course with the help of googletranslate. The first was for the ferry between Odden (in Sjaelland) and Aarhus (in Jutland). I was rather proud of myself that I made the reservation and the early morning ferry ride went of without a hitch.  

The ferry was very comfortable despite the fact that we were not in business class, clearly for some folks this was a daily commute to Aarhus which is a large university town.

The ferry port is in practically in the city, so it was a short drive  to the museum, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum. The museum is 10 stories tall. Teenaged boys were fascinated with the rainbow walkway at the top, and indeed a lot of the whole museum.  Quite amazing. 

[Side  note:  it's unpredictable what museums or museum exhibits MY young men enjoy.  They do not like looking at paintings. ARoS got it  right, they both enjoyed photographic exhibit and the walkway.  At the Smithsonian last year one like the Chinese pottery as he also like to throw pots…the other liked the sculpture. So I guess my advice is…keep taking your bored teenagers to museums because something will catch their fancy.]   

Seen at the museum

Myself, my wonder is of the nineteenth century painters.

This is a detail of a painting, I will find out the artist and update

Here is a smaller detail, she is making a fishing net with a tool  the same as the one I purchased in Iceland several years ago

I set it on a Peruvian textile to photograph it, looks a bit like her skirt!

The  painting below is by Edvard Peterson from 1890, "Emigrants at Larsens Plads."  Peterson was a social realist painter who painted the realities of everyday life of working people. (I now have a new favorite genre of painting).  This painting is very meaningful to me as my Great Great Grandparents emigrated to New York from Denmark in 1860 with their first baby.  The baby, Christian, did not survive the ocean voyage. The strife and anxiety and necessity of a pending emigration depicted in this picture are very poignant to me.

Here's a nice site with more information on Aarhus

Mom wanted to drive from Aarhus to the Moesgard Museum nearby in Holbjerg and was dismayed to learn that it was under renovation. She REALLY wanted to see the Graubelle Man, one of three ancient people who have been discovered in Jutland's peat. Unhappily for us but great for the Moesgard Museum, it is under renovation and closed this summer.

So we settled on a visit to Lindholm Høye, a Viking burial ground.
Here's a  site with more detailed information.

It was in an idyllic setting with sheep grazing around the monument stones.  It was ever thus!  The sheep are Gotland which are apparently raised throughout Denmark. More on this in an upcoming post.

The shop was nice, plenty of Viking garb

There was a lovely cafe and store, purchased some natural dyed yarn

Natural dyes left to right: Dried Tansy, St John's Wort, madder and a darker madder.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Spinsjal Organic Scarf (Free Pattern!)

I do very little pattern writing but here's a little thing that I came up with. It uses my handspun and hand dyed silk. I will also put up a link in the "Free Patterns" section.  Try it and let me know how it turns out!

Organic Scarf
Spinsjal Designs

This is a “recipe” pattern for a garter stitch scarf that can be as wide and as long as you like.  The sample uses handspun silk that was hand dyed with eucalyptus. 


Yarn: I used 100 yards of handspun silk which was 11 wpi (wraps per inch) and a bit “thick and thin.” My gauge was 4 stitches per inch. You can use whatever yarn at whatever gauge you like, but be mindful of drape and softness.

Needles: Pick some needles and knit a sample that creates a nice “fabric” for your scarf, adjusting needle size as needed. I used size 4 straight needles.

Dyeing: My yarn was dyed with eucalyptus. Silk takes dyes well and has a lovely tone to it. If you would like to dye your own, see the general instructions in this post at my blog:  Some prior experience with natural dyeing is recommended before you use a precious yarn as dyeing is always an experiment, and results can vary. I did NOT mordant this yarn, so I expect that the color of this scarf will fade with time.


Cast on 30 stitches. Knit 10 rows or 5 garter ribs. Next row: k 2 tog in each stitch. 15 stitches remain.

Knit to the length that you would like your scarf, minus the ruffle border.  

I had a limited amount of yarn and wanted to use it all. I calculated how much I would need for the last 10 rows of the scarf (the ruffle end) in this way: I needed 5 times the length of a row of knitting to actually knit the row.  I measured out enough for the last 10 rows by measuring out the yarn based on the width of the beginning ruffle. 

When you are ready to knit the end ruffle, do an invisible increase in each stitch in this way: pick up the stitch below your stitch and place it on the needle. Then, knit each stitch. Here’s a good website for pictures of this technique:
At the end of the row you will have 30 stitches. Continue knitting in garter stitch for 10 more rows then bind off loosely.