Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rocky Road Ahead

Arctic temperatures continue… This morning –32 C which meant that this was the perfect day to take all the bed clothes outside for a good dusting and freshen up. February is the coldest month up here so I should not be surprised if the whole month is like this. The sun is shining but she is only giving light no warmth.

This would be a great day to take all the wool outside as well!

I had a great weekend. I was away in the north (there is plenty of Finland beyond Arctic Circle). I took a bus and spent a good many hours in it and while the bus was going up and down small winding roads I let my eyes and soul rest in the peaceful and white and empty and bare country. Kilometre after kilometre without a human touch (only the road of course). The weather was not good for picture taking. The sky was clouded with snow heavy clouds and it was snowing for the most of the weekend. This picture is from the small village where I was. Look at the colour, the sky, the ground and even the trees are all the same. It is this grey-white all around. It was very easy to fall asleep in the bus.

I was very happy to read Yarn Harlot’s blog entry about the Rovaniemi Mitten. I have been trying to gather bits of information about the mitten during the past months. There is something written about the mittens (both from Rovaniemi and from Inari) in Mary Olki’s books and there is a picture of the mitten in Eeva Haavisto’s mitten book that is similar to these mittens from Lapland – these books are old and have been out of print for a long time. There are also some magazine instructions that have been published over the years and there are quite similar mittens in some Norwegian books but there is not one word written (now, hopefully that will change sooner than later) anywhere how the mitten is done in detail and there is more there than what meets the eye.

At the moment my loom inspires me. I put it up again. I have 150 cm (60”) wide Toika Loom (
my loom is Liisa). I’m not sure what I’ll be making in the coming months but I’m very happy and hopeful. I’m not a good weaver, and not an experienced one, I have done few carpets, scarves and table cloths but that’s all. Weaving is a way to learn something new and challenge my brain. Also weaving connects me to my Finnish great grandmothers. Finnish women have always been skillful weavers and there is lots of inspiration to be found all over. Many homes have hand-woven carpets at the least, but lots of them have hand-woven tablecloths and towels as well. Not to talk about warm blankets. If you are interested seeing some Finnish weaving, you can look at some ryijy rugs at this site (the site is in Finnish but click on the pictures).

I'm a bit afraid of this loom thing though. I know there are many frustrations ahead and moments when I feel like using the loom as firewood and I will rely on my knitting on such occasions. I trust it will be my peaceful companion and calming friend. When everything else fails, I know my knitting will be there patiently waiting to be picked up.

25 comments:

  1. Lene, thanks for the photos and the beautiful mind you must have to describe such a bleak image in a way that makes me wish to be there. Your writing and photos bring lovely fantasy of living a life with simple clean lines and roles. Or maybe I just have a very active imagination. Thanks for always showing or saying something to make me wish I could visit and chat and knit and spin with you. :)

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  2. There's no way to get better at weaving than to go for it - and with weaving more or less in your blood (and all of your other fiber skills) I'm sure that you'll conquer the loom.

    I'm really fascinated with the Rovaniemi mittens, as well as a little jealous of the 19 people in North America who got to learn from Susanna.

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  3. Esther17:07

    Dear Lene, I love this picture of snow, snow, snow...i love the winter because that's precisely a good time for "interior works", textile ones especially, a time for thinking, dreaming, meditating...And what a right moment to do this, while knitting, weaving or embroidering !
    By a kind of curious coincidence, I was woprking on my loom yesterday, passing the tiny threads in the...how is it in english ? A "ros" in french, this moving part near of you that "pack" the weaving, kind of comb...I'm not a long time weaver,but I love to recreate the ancient motions, the rythm, of those actions our grand and great grand mother were doing so often...
    Have a good February month with all your dreams and plans...
    Esther

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  4. Lene, I so enjoy your photos of the winter landscapes in Finland.

    I took Susanna's Rovaniemi mitten class at Madrona too and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a treat to see your beautiful knitting in person and to learn this fascinating knitting technique!

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  5. Francesca17:44

    Loom as firewood… there's a vision of frustration. You couldn't have expressed it more vividly.
    I can't imagine what it's like to spend weeks at Arctic winter temperatures, but I know you are well equipped with all your spinning, knitting, embroidery and weaving supplies. I hope your indoor time will be enjoyable and I look forward to seeing the new beautiful things you'll make.

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  6. The beauty of pure white can't be overstated. It is calming to see the purity of clean snow. We would love to have more. Thank goodness it finally came your way. Good luck with the weaving.

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  7. Alena17:56

    Lene -
    I found your blog through the Yarn Harlot - and I love your work! I am also a weaver and knitter and I wish you all the best of luck in your weaving this month. I wish I could be there to give you encouragement. My great-grandmother was from Vaasa and I am thrilled to know that weaving is a traditional craft in Finland. I feel like I am now truly carrying on a family tradition. Stay warm!

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  8. Why do you take the bedclothes out in the snow?

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  9. It is beautiful - the fresh, white snow - ours only stays clean for a few hours and then it is slushy and dirty! Christmas card snow - that is what I like!
    Thanks for the link. I love the rugs by Akseli Gallen-Kallela. You can even see an Egyptian influence in some of those rugs. I am reading 'Caesar and Cleopatra' by George Bernard Shaw for my Elder College course, so the Egyptian design caught my eye.
    I am also reading "Zen and the Art of Knitting", so I understand how knitting relaxes us, at least I think I understand!

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  10. I have no doubt that you would be an excellent weaver. You have such good color sense, I'm sure you would produce truly lovely things.

    I'm glad the light is returning. It may not be warm, but at least night and day are easier to distinguish...

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  11. A trip into the northland sounds nice. I can't wait to see what you make with the loom! will you be using your own dyed and spun fibers?

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  12. I am intensely curious about the Rovaniemi mittens -- I hope I'm able to take a class in the near future, because reading about them and not knowing how they're done is driving me batty!

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  13. I also hope to be able to tak e aclass in Rovaniemi mittens. I love the snow but then again I don't live in it for months at a time.

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  15. Lene, I always enjoy reading your blog, but especially when my husband is away in Finland (he was just on Oulu and is now back in Helsinki and Epsoo? for a few days). I feel like i get a glimpse of what he is experiencing, so thanks for the photos!

    I also enjoyed the Harlots post about the mittens. They are truly beautiful and I sincerely hope that many others (myself included) get a chance to learn how to make these in the future. Thank you for your work in preserving these!

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  16. Ellen in Conn23:33

    Esther - the loom part that you pull toward yourself is "the beater" and the comb thing it holds, with the threads evenly spaced, is called the "reed" because of what they used to be made of.
    Lene, I used to be a weaver, it is how I defined myself. I had to give it up because of my wrists, but now, a decade later, I am wanting to do it again. It is funny, the differences between these two ways of making fabric. Knitting yarn is SO expensive, while the tools are pretty cheap. Weaving yarn is inexpensive, but the tools can cost a fortune. And then the yarn usage - 10% waste is normal in weaving, while a knitter who has a yard of yarn leftover thinks she has planned very well! A weaver can make thrum rugs forever, while a knitter's thrummed mitten is a big deal. Well, thanks for everything. I think of you in all your wool and goose-down and layers and I remind myself not to complain but to rejoice!

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  17. You have such a way with words. I love how you take the time to paint a quiet and peaceful picture of the place where you live, when a lot of the people I know would sum it up with something like, "Cold! Bah!"

    Good luck with the spinning. I hope to hear more about it!

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  18. marjorie00:34

    When I was a little girl, my mother had a friend who was a weaver, and I was fascinated by her big loom and the placemats she made. Something on the loom looked like a little wooden shoe which she slid back and forth--what would that be called? Today I noticed that spring is coming. It was definitely lighter out when I got up. Enjoy your loom, and your knitting in between. Thank you for the lovely pictures of your winter.

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  19. Esther02:32

    Thanks Ellen ! I should have made a search by myself...I also saw the name on the site given by Lene about her loom.
    Esther

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  20. I find it so peaceful to stare at the new snow, especially here in the country where it never gets touched by humans!

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  21. chris18:46

    I have trouble remaining positive in the winter with our diminished daylight. What is it about wool that helps? On days when I could just stay home and knit, I was much more positive in everything.

    Thanks for your site... I love the glimpses into your life, which is quite different from mine. And yet, I think we'd get along just fine through the magic of wool. :)

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  22. I just looked at some of your pictures. Your knitting is incredible. Such beautiful work.

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  23. I was ridiculously and unjustifiably proud of you when I read the Yarn Harlot's posting about those mittens. You do such wonderful work, Lene, and weblogging has given us all a chance to share in your world.

    The primroses are open in Ireland, and the daffodils are ready to break their buds any day now.

    Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns

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  24. I am still working on the wristlettes from Susanna's class - it is such an amazing technique.
    thank you for all your work.

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  25. Finland looks and feels quite a bit like here in Northern Ontario. Except we have moose and white tailed deer instead of reindeer.

    Your Cranberry-Red socks are very pretty.

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