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. 

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Summer knits

Here are two designs for summer, one completely new and one as good as new.

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Ellinore

Ellinore combines the graphic lines of k2, p2 ribbing with a small scale, delicate lace pattern. This creates a garment that is feminine without being girly. A sweet and cool top for all kinds of summer adventures.

The ribbing is worked around, and then, the work is divided for armholes and worked back and forth. The shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind-off for perfect pattern match. The edgings are worked in stockinette and folded and attached on the wrong side, with a garter ridge marking the transition from lace to stockinette.

Effortless knitting and easy wearability rolled into one garment shown by lovely Milka.

Agatha

Agatha was originally designed for my first cotton yarn, way back when, but has continued to be a personal favorite. So recently I decided to rework it in another favorite, Hempathy, my lovely cool hemp/cotton/modal blend yarn. A compatible combination. Add a vivacious sap green color, and it is ready for any summer adventure.

We photographed it on beautiful Kisanet at the Görväln Castle, a local cultural center.

The patterns are available from my pattern store www.ravelry.com/stores/elsebeth-lavold-designs

Photos by Anders Rydell

Lina

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Lina, rhymes with Tina.

I don’t design for children very often but here’s one where both model and design are too cute for words.

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This is just pure cardigan sweetness; two simple lace patterns and stockinette play against each other. The yarn is Hempathy, which is lovely to knit with and creates a pleasant drape in the cardigan. The edgings are narrow eyelet rows framed in garter and the eyelets also double as buttonholes at the front. This is really a case of the result being greater than the sum of the parts.

You’ll find the pattern at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lina-11

Photo by Anders Rydell

Aisha

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Aisha was originally developed a couple of years ago when my husband and I went on a “cultural trip” to Turkey. We had received a prospectus about travels to Cappadocia in Turkey and when I saw the photos of the landscape I just knew that we had to go. Here are some of Anders’ photos from the trip.

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Some of the odd aspects; mountains that looked like whipped cream and others that looked like fairy tale dwellings.

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Multi-storey dwellings carved out of the mountains with constructed, more conventional buildings or sections of buildings, attached. People actually lived in these dewllings well into the 20th century. Now they are mostly used as summer houses.

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In one photo you can even see a solar panel and a satellite dish attached to a “cave dwelling”. This was early spring and the almond trees were in full bloom and not much else. Cappadocia must be among the most wondrous landscapes in the world and I am immensely grateful that I got to see it in real life (even on a bus tour).

Anyway, Aisha was my knitting project for the trip, though I knitted the first version in my, sadly discontinued, Eucool. I was so happy with the result, I had my fabulous knitter, Helena Norén, knit another one in Hempathy. We photographed it on our lovely model Sanna Wranå.

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The knitting is mostly very easy. The lace part of the pattern is somewhat demanding but only in that you need to pay attention, it is basically very easy knitting.

The sweater on the other hand is beautiful and versatile. Perfect for cool summer days or air conditioned offices.

You’ll find the pattern at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/aisha-2

Photos by Anders Rydell

Marsha

As I have written before, Misty Wool works really well for the summer season too. Maybe not in the mid-day sun but definitely for cool and even warm summer evenings.

Here we photographed Marsha on me when we were in Mallorca in the early fall. Temperatures in the 70’s in the daytime end in the 60’s at night, very comfortable.

Marsha is all garter stitch and baby cables, very little shaping so this is basically zen knitting (I have been needing a lot of that lately).

And this is definitely a case of synergy between pattern and yarn.

Pattern available from my pattern store http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/marsha-8

Photo by Anders Rydell

Misty Wool not just for winter

When I started designing in my lovely Misty Wool yarn I wasn’t aware of its full potential. I figured that it was just another woolen yarn, suitable for winter cardigans and sweaters. It is not! Now that we have become better acquainted I have found it to a truly trans-seasonal yarn suitable for all times except maybe heat waves. Probably in part because of the hemp content but also because of its construction – it is a kind of loose tube yarn. Either way I love it and here are two trans-seasonal designs, now available at my Ravelry store.

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Rikki

A relaxed comfortable sweater, perfect for almost any everyday occasion. The interesting asymmetrical cable pattern creates a nice contrast to the simple structured rib pattern on the sleeves and collar. Welts at the top of the sleeves and around the neckline add sophistication and the Misty Wool yarn supplies character.

The cable pattern is charted and the rib pattern has written instructions.

Francine

Is a cardigan and as comfortable and easy to wear as you could ever wish. The combination of yarn, color and pattern, makes it elegant enough to don instead of a jacket. And the symmetrical pattern offers the opportunity to display some lovely buttons.

The cable pattern on garter adds textural interest (as if the Misty Wool yarn wasn’t interesting enough by itself) and I chose to purl the garter stitch background in order to be able to work the pattern on the right side where I can see what’s going on and to rest on the purl-only wrong side rows. The pattern is charted only.

I like the idea of a knitted pocket. We all need to be able to bring our phones along and small odds and ends, even when we don’t bring a handbag. It turned out that a lot of designers are showing bags on belts and added pickets, so my idea was timely. It is a quirky addition and it could be worn either under or over the cardigan. I recommend that you line the pocket to make it sturdier.

Here is a photo of me wearing the prototype. I had to make some adjustments in order to grade the cardigan, which to my mind made it better, but the prototype is still nice enough for me to keep and I have been wearing it over a shirt all winter.

Photo as always by Anders Rydell.

Ea

Ea was the Mesopotamian god of wisdom. In Denmark Ea is a female name, one I have always liked. So here is my Ea, available at my Ravelry store.

The shape is quite ordinary but the patterns isn’t. Here I’ve stacked two motifs and placed them asymmetrically on the front and back (mirrored so both are on the same side of the body). One motif on each sleeve and, voopti as the Danes say, there you have a very wearable sweater. All the edges are reverse stockinette curling inwards.

I have always been fond of traveling stitches. They are just miniature cables and once you learn to work them without a cable needle the knitting becomes not only ea(sy) but also really fun. The pattern is worked from a chart, but always on the right side rows, where you can see what you’re doing, leaving you with plain purling and no thinking on the wrong side rows.

The pattern is charted only.

Photo as always by Anders Rydell.

BTW the hand dyed silk scarf is a gift from Wendy at Saga Hill Designs.