Magpie sweater

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I was watching the magpies snowbathing outside my window and was inspired to share this with you. I love magpies! They are beautiful birds and thoroughly amusing. winter.

Once I saw a gang of magpies teasing the neighbor’s cat. One magpie would fly down and stand about 10 feet in front of the cat, pretending it didn’t notice the cat. The cat would get started, preparing to attack and then pounce! Only to find that the magpie had already flown and all the other magpies were sitting in the trees screeching with laughter, while the cat licked itself in embarrassment and pretended it hadn’t done anything. This process was repeated three times before the cat gave up and left.

Back in the late 80’s a Swedish director, Mikael Kristerson, made a movie called Pica Pica (the latin name for magpie). It is listed in Imdb as a documentary but it is like no other documentary I have ever seen. It shows the life of a gang of magpies during a few weeks in the winter (actually in a suburb just a mile from my home). There is no narrative and the soundtrack is background noise such as human conversations and car stereos. The whole movie is from a magpie perspective. You might think that would soon become boring, but the whole just over two hours are immensely fascinating. I recently saw the movie again, anticipating that it had aged without grace, but apart from the fact that the resolution of pictures has increased, the film is still fabulous. If you ever get the chance, see it!

Many years ago, probably almost twenty, when I still had my knitting machine for thin yarns, I loomed this sweater for my father. When he died a few years ago, my sister made the sweater hers. She has gracefully volunteered to model the cardie for me. Thank you, dear sister.

I no longer have the knitting machine and I can’t hand knit with yarns as thin as this (a thin alpaca), and anyway I have lost my notes, but I’m happy to share the chart for your personal use. The pdf is available below.

Elsebeth Lavold’s Magpie

Photo by Anders Rydell

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Dagny

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This particular Viking Pattern seems to be a favorite of mine. I’ve used it in several designs in my . It lends itself to both panels and placed motifs and is so very graphic. Also the cable pattern is symmetrical which makes the pattern extra easy to learn and knit.

Here, I’ve combined it with k2, p2 ribbing in a sleeveless V-neck top. It is self-edged which makes for very little finishing and, if you are careful, the seams at the sides will be next to invisible.

The yarn is my lovely Hempathy, a blend of hemp, cotton and viscose, which creates a fabric that feels like linen but knits like a dream (in my experience linen yarns are difficult and hurt like hell to knit with).

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We brought our model, the lovely Sofie, to Stora Ryttarne, a medieval church ruin for the photo session.

Photo by Anders Rydell

Oona

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Sweet as it is, Oona will challenge you to some extent, no doubt about that.

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The front panel, with the dominant embossed leaf pattern, is quite demanding but oh so pretty. The rest of the sweater on the other hand is a breeze; the simple garter and stockinette block pattern stays in the background, underlining the drama of the embossed leaf pattern, while the ribbed sleeves and collar pull the look together.

The buttons are optional, but for me they added the final touch.

The pattern is available at my Ravelry store www.ravelry.com/stores/elsebeth-lavold-designs

Photo by Anders Rydell

Adele

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Lace patterns do not have to be delicate and dainty. Exploring that theme led to Adele, at first just a cowl, but I felt that the result was pretty enough for matching wrist warmers. Then one thing led to another, or rather two led to the third. I added a slouchy cap as well.

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The chunky yarn is pleasingly soft and shows up the pattern well. The lace pattern is easy to learn and easy to knit. Normally you would knit back and forth for the rhythm of one row lace pattern, purl one row, but I chose to work them around, both to avoid disfiguring seams and to save on finishing. Knit, weave in ends, done!

Knit one or knit all three pieces.

The pattern is available at my Ravelry store www.ravelry.com/stores/elsebeth-lavold-designs

Zia

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The pattern is is fairly easy and fun to knit and allows you plenty of opportunities to play with color. I have chosen to use three colors in my color combinations, but 2 colors would create a completely different story where the same color would appear on all the welts and the contrast color would repeat in the grooves. Selecting one color for the welt and a different color in each groove, is another possibility, so have fun with this.

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You could also add one more repeat lengthwise for a slouchier version of the hat.

The same goes for the loop which could be made wider by adding one or more repeats to the cast on stitches and lengthened according to your own desires.

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I chose to knit the loop in red/rust/purple to add color to my black fall coat, The Caribean blue and green hat and wrist warmers express my longing for summer;

So have fun and stay warm!

Photos as always by Anders Rydell

Fall is coming

D8C_9743_Frankie_Alt3_SRGB72It’s been a magnificent summer. July was the hottest monthh since they began measuring temperatures 260-something years ago! And the unusual heat continued through most of August too.

But now, the nights are getting cool, as are the mornings. So it’s perfect to wrap up in a luscious soft scarf to keep warm.

This scarf is super easy, just knits and purls, but arranged so that the knitting is a breeze. I’ve made mine fairly short, but for a longer scarf you just keep on knitting until you have enough. Each skein of yarn will give you approx. 15–16 in / 40 cm in length.

Now, for ease of knitting, this pattern is not symmetrical. This has the interesting side effect of making it perfect as a moebius. A moebius shaped cowl will automatically drape nicely around the neck. The moebius is created by knitting a shorter scarf and then twisting it once, so that back meets front, and sewing the short ends together as invisibly as possible. Or you can just hide the seam in the draping.

The Luscious Llama yarn is perfect for these projects, super softness, drape and sheen and perfect stitch definition.

Did I mention that they’re easy to knit?

Frankie

Sizes

Width 9½ in / 24 cm

Length Scarf 47 in / 120 cm

Length Moebius 36 in / 80 cm

Materials Luscious Llama

Scarf 300 g

Moebius 200 g

100% Baby Llama, 100 g = 50 m /55 yds

Needles US 10 / 6 mm

Gauge 14 sts x 20 rows in Stockinette = 4 x 4 in / 10 x 10 cm.

Adjust needle size to obtain gauge if necessary.

Cast on 41 sts and work in pattern: * K3, p1, repeat from * and end with k1. Repeat this pattern row all the time. Work until there is just enough yarn left to bind off. Bind off in pattern.

Happy Knitting!

Photo as always by Anders Rydell

Rooting for Norway

Anders and I are back from a visit to Norway, revisiting places from our last visit to Norway and revisiting my roots.

Our plans took us straight west, from the eastern coast of Sweden to the western coast of Norway, then around the southern coast of Norway, almost to Oslo, and back to Stockholm again.
I have been admiring the work of talented designer Linda Marveng for quite a while. When I realized that we would be passing right by her house, I brazenly invited myself and my husband in for a cup of coffee. Linda and her husband Michael, generously invited us to dinner and we had a lovely afternoon at their beautiful house in 
Ørje. So much so that none of us thought to take any photos despite both Michael and Anders being photographers.

The next day we visited the stave church at Heddal. The church has three towers and is Norway’s largest. It was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century and restored, first in the mid 19th century then again in the mid-20th. Anders took a photo of the copy of the medieval painting that is kept in the church, with Jesus looking like a laid back hippie saying “peace, dude”. The church has details at the top of the the staves depicting, according to the guide, Norse gods. Talk about hedging your bets.

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Then on to a reprise; the Raven Gorge. This is a steep cliff, 350 m, almost a 1000 ft, that boasts updrafts that will lift even large branches if you throw them over the edge. The view is absolutely breathtaking and returning on a hot summer’s day was an absolute treat. The perfect spot for a picnic.

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On westwards and upwards, and suddenly, exiting one of the ubiquitous tunnels, a landscape so unexpected it almost blew our minds. Haukeli, at 1100 m or 3600 ft, a stark landscape of barren rock with grass, mosses and patches of snow and ice floes on the water. And yet, the temperature was in the around 21C/70F. Absolutely gorgeous and surrealistic to move around sleeveless in these surroundings.

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Then, on to the final leg of this day’s travels, to Åkrafjord where we spent the night. After dinner, and after viewing half a dozen of spectacular water falls, a final glass of wine on the balcony overlooking the fjord.

The next week was spent revisiting family, my aunt and uncle and cousins I hadn’t met for a long time.

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First a couple of days with my cousin Gro at her fantastic house. She and her husband are restoring an old general store and turning it into a gem. She photographed me and Anders in our Viking garb, dressed for an outing to Avaldsnes where a Viking market coincided with our visit.

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Then a trip down along the coast, which is very beautiful and varied: flat coastal areas and farmland as well as mountainous areas, some lush and green and others almost barren.

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On the way we passed Helleren, an awesome cliff overhanging two houses built in the late 1800’s. They are now a tourist attraction but were once lived in; hard to imagine. The surrounding landscape is a UN world heritage site. It has a unique geological history, which explains the fairly low barren mountains, barely more than 600 m / 1600 ft, yet with very little vegetation.

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We also visited a Bronze Age site with an unusual sculpted head called Rosselandsguden, the God of Rosseland. The site also contains a stone altar and two stone troughs. It is believed to be a sacrificial site, probably connected to the norse God of fertility, Frey.

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Then, on to Flekkefjord, a small town in the typical western Norwegian style, to spend a couple of days with my uncle and aunt.

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An interesting note, which I was unaware of: this stretch of the coast, from Haugesund to Flekkefjord, is so close to the amphidromic point at Egersund that it has almost no tide. Considering that the east coast of England has tides up to almost 8 m / 26 ft, on the other side of the same North Sea, that is quite mind boggling.

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The following day my uncle and aunt took us to see my family roots, we visited Lavoll (modern spelling with two ll’s instead of ld), a sleepy (just barely) village. We passed through the Lavoll tunnel (373 m/ 1224 ft) and went up the Lavoll hill. Finally a photo of me at the Lavoll train station (quite grand, isn’t it?). The line is now discontinued but has been revived as an historical railroad, and you can travel it on a draisine or railbike.

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Finally we visited my cousin Kirsti who now lives in my grandfather’s old house. It is located at the southern end of a long narrow lake that pretty much looks like a fjord. The view up the lake is always beautiful but the last evening treated us to one of its most beautiful moods.

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Our final stop in Norway was a return to Mølen – a place of sea and polished rocks full of bronze or iron age cairns and of magic. No wonder it is now a UN world heritage site. The bad part about that is that we didn’t have it to ourselves. Last time we visited, which was almost thirty years ago, the UN hadn’t discovered it and we were able to go to sleep and wake up with the fairies. This time we had a light drizzle and the place looked more stark but the magical feel was still there.

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Homeward bound, a final dinner with friends and then as always, several days of rest and recreation – time to process all of the impressions from a wonderful vacation.

Photos by Anders Rydell except the one of me and Anders which was taken by Gro Lavold.