A Bit of Tryghed - the Last of the Hygge Patterns

October 2015 045-horz The Tryghed hat was released today - the hat's the last HYGGE pattern and it's rather sad to say goodbye to a project that's been really close to my heart. All good things come to an end, though, and Tryghed is a really nice way to finish. I'll write more about the hat itself in a second, but first I want to go a bit Scandinavian on you.

Hygge is really hard to define because it encompasses so many things. We've talked about how it means to be warm, cosy, spending time with good friends, taking your time over coffee, and just kicking back with a good book and candlelight. The feeling of tryghed is really key to hygge, actually. Tryghed can be translated as 'feeling safe and sound' but it is also a really tactile thing. I feel it when I'm wrapped in my favourite quilt or when I walk hand in hand with my partner. I feel it when I'm sitting inside on a rainy night and I am warm. Without tryghed, you can have as much coffee or as warm a quilt as you like - but you won't have hygge.

So, I wanted to translate that feeling of cosy tactile feeling of security into both a hat and the knitting experience.

Tryghed is a fully written pattern which can be knitted by most people. If you can knit in the round, knit & purl, and do basic decreases, then you can knit Tryghed. I have included some sneaky details like the crown shaping and one clever lace round, but this is a hat for most abilities. The yarn is Thick Pirkkalanka, a worsted-weight yarn from Midwinter Yarns and the hat takes just one skein. It is warm, squishy and everything I love in a yarn - again, the idea of tactile tryghed came into play! It goes without saying that I chose to knit the hat in my favourite colour in the entire world..

October 2015 073-horz

I'll spare you the photos of me eating a cinnamon bun (we shot these photos on National Cinnamon Bun Day!) but I'll link you to a few Scandinavian recipes for you to try out!

+ Swedish Cinnamon Buns (kanelbullar)

+ Danish Dream Cake (drømmekage)

+ Elderberry cordial syrup - for more Danish flavours, leave out the cloves and substitute with some lemon peel.

+ Gløgg, obviously! I really like this white wine version too.

It's been such a joy to see all the beautiful things you've made. Keep sharing those photos with me and thank you for going me on this little adventure into my traditions and homelands.


Taking Comfort

ShawlSometimes a project comes along that just makes you sigh with pleasure. This is one of those projects. It is work knitting, but it also feels like comfort knitting. This is a shawl pattern that is destined for my Doggerland collection. It is knitted in Navia Uno, a gorgeously soft yarn from the Faroe Islands. Technically it is a light fingering yarn - almost 3 ply - but I am working with it on 4.5mm needles which gives it a magical drape, yet a satisfactory weight to the fabric. I am currently on the second repeat of my stitch pattern - the world is distracting me a bit too much with other things, but I need to knuckle down as I have deadline knitting in addition to this shawl.

I am really enjoying working on this collection, though. Part of the fun is researching Mesolithic Europe but also thinking about materials that would have been available to the peoples at the time. I have decided against using glass beads and metal beads for obvious reasons - but how can I justify using wool when I cannot a) find any material on Mesolithic textiles and b) any evidence of sheep? Well, I am allowing myself artistic freedom to use wool but I will attempt to use relatively unprocessed yarn. Obviously knitters using my patterns can choose whichever materials they want, but I have had fun thinking about my choice of materials rather than just reaching for the merino/silk blend and that jar of glass beads.. as tempting as though it may be!

I have been reading a couple of non-related books, too. I gulped down Susan Hill's Howards End is on the Landing last night. I adore books about books and have a big section of my home library devoted to them. Sadly Landing is not so much a Book About Books but rather a Book About Famous People Susan Hill Has Met  - and it does suffer from it.

There are some very good bits tucked away in Hill's book: how to (not) sort books, the physical pleasures of reading a codex rather than an e-reader, collecting books over the years, and how to choose a title for book. However, the good bits are drowned out though by incessant name-dropping.

Did you know she had lunch with Benjamin Britten who liked her novel? That she once waited on a doorstep with TS Eliot? That E.M. Forster once stepped on her toes? That Kingsley Amis once said to her in 'a genuine tone' that he was very proud of his son? That she interviewed one Sitwell and recited Thomas Hardy to another Sitwell? That Bruce Chatwin's parents lived doors down from her? And so it goes on.

I am sticking to Anne Fadiman's wonderful Ex Libris, John Baxter's A Pound of Paper, and Alberto Manguel's A History of Reading. Hill's Landing ended up reading like chatter from a woman who has nothing interesting to say even about the most fascinating things. But did you know she once was on a reading panel with Roald Dahl who signed a book for her?


I better get back to work/comfort knitting. (Fortunately all this knitting coincides with the European Championship of Football - my homeboys won their first match!  I may have biked through Glasgow silently singing old football songs.. this is an expat thing, surely).


Many cultures have stories about threads, spinning, and weaving. After all, textile-making used to be an every-day activity (I nearly wrote 'part of the fabric of life' - language is full of textile metaphors). Norse mythology is no different. The norns are female beings of fate, of sorts, and 19th century images often depict the norns weaving at the foot of Yggdrasill (the world tree). I like to imagine the norns as being far less picturesque and a lot more unknowable than most of the imagery associated with them.

I don't know why I chose to call this jumper "Norn" on its Ravelry project page, in other words. Maybe because it reminds me of Scandinavia, maybe because I spend a lot of time weaving threads behind one another (the joys of colourwork).

But Norn it is.

It is working up relatively fast and the luse pattern is really easy to remember.

I am also very happy with the colour choice I made: Rowan Tweed in Bedale for the body, and Bainbridge for the contrast. Bedale is a nice, but not dull oat-meal colour and Bainbridge is a dark red with interesting flecks through it. Essentially I'm knitting Norn with the Danish flag colours but in a not-obvious and completely wearable way.

You can say what you like about 19th century appropriation of Norse mythology (and I don't have many nice things to say), but I do love reading translations of the Poetic Edda that go like this:

Mightily wove they the web of fate, While Bralund's towns were trembling all; And there the golden threads they wove, And in the moon's hall fast they made them.

In case you are interested in reading more about Old Norse texts and the sources of what we today know as Norse mythology, Heimskringla is an excellent place to start and many of their texts are even available in English. Their photo archive may be of interest too if you are of the visual persuasion..


Two things:

  1. Susan Boyle has covered Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over". On Oprah.
  2. Neil Finn and I are officially over.

Today was a bleak, rainy Friday, so my partner and I headed out to Mini-Sweden for some Scandi-style retail therapy (and quite successful we were too; I came away with supplies for a secret project of mine). We also helped ourselves to some pseudo-Scandinavian food and all was right with the world. I like Mini-Sweden. It's clearly an expat-Scandi thing because I never used to be this enthused about heading there. Maybe it is just because I enjoy feeling smug about knowing what the product names mean..

Afterwards D and I swung by a nearby shopping centre to get a few Christmas presents sorted for our Danish family and friends. Whilst caught in retail hell, I decided to try on a few cardigans in preparation for future knitting projects. I'm that glad that I did - and I'm glad that I was yet to get the yarn for a certain crocheted shrug because the shape was really unflattering on me. I have an hourglass figure but cascading fronts + big collar = 'sack of potatoes' figure. D has a great eye for what I should wear (I'd hire him to be my personal stylist but he claims he doesn't want the job) and he had me try on this top instead. Holy moly. I would never have thought I'd look anything but chunky and boxy in that sort of style.. but I looked sexy, stylish and seriously cool. That's a first.

A few links for your perusal: + The first real teaser trailer for Attack of the Herbals. Watch out for the "German" priest - I know that guy! + Something nasty is happening in Malmo, Sweden. Sadly I had thought something like this would happen at some point but I had pegged Denmark as the spot. I'm also concerned that it has taken this long for the news to hit the headlines. Bad show, very bad show. + Don Paterson on Shakespeare's sonnets. I'm not fully sold but I'm intrigued. + Grading the flags of the world. Hilarious stuff and also a bit educational. + The best of the web, fershure: The Ages of English. Super-fabulous look at the development of the English language. Interestingly I can sort-of understand the English spoken circa Viking Settlement. I also like the glimpses into Scots English. + Paulina Porizkova, 80s 'supermodel', on aging. Very much worth a read.