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Nordic Knitting Conference

I just got back from a long weekend in the Pacific Northwest to attend the Nordic Knitting Conference in Seattle. The Nordic Knitting Conference is hosted by the Nordic Heritage Museum and happens every other year. It features tons of guest instructors, workshops, lectures and a marketplace at the museum. It was amazing. 

I was traveling with Kate and Courtney of Kelbourne Woolens and we were accompanied by Keli Faw of Drygoods Design, a fabric shop in Seattle. We took a trip out to Tolt the day before the conference started. Tolt is in Carnation, about a 45 minute drive from Seattle and it is beautiful! Rachel and Kimberly who work at Tolt took us on a short hike which allowed us to see the beautiful lush landscape and moss-covered trees. Tolt was lovely and I came back with some beautiful yarn from Portugal and some fun Tolt-themed items.

I managed to squeak in a sewing class at Drygoods Design. I was super excited to visit Keli's store in Pioneer Square in Seattle and it just so happened that Sophie Hines who taught here this summer was teaching her Arccos Undies class. I had just gotten to town and didn't have anything going on so of course I had to make undies! The class and space were lovely and I'm in love with my new undies. 

A sweater demonstrating Bohus Stickning from Susanna Hansson

The Nordic Knitting Conference was one of the best and nerdiest things I've attended. It lasted three days with workshops all day and lectures during lunch and in the evenings. Attendees could pick and choose how many events they wanted to go to. The classes covered hardcore techniques from all the Nordic countries including Iceland, Estonia, Sweden, Norway and Finland. They covered everything from knitting to lace to colorwork to spinning and dyeing. The attendees were serious about knitting and learning which I appreciated and the instructors were top notch. Arne and Carlos were the featured guests who also gave a keynote lecture on Saturday night.

The first class I took was textured, twined knitting with Beth Brown-Reinsel. Twined knitting or Tvåändsstickning in Swedish, is a method of knitting that involves using two strands of yarn from the inside and outside of one ball. The stitches are worked using a different strand every other stitch and twisting them around one another after every stitch. The patterns and textures are made by moving yarn to the front or back to purl and knit and carrying the purl yarn across the fabric on the front. I am in love with twined knitting. I learned so much including a new cast on, how to knit by throwing the yarn, and how to manage the twist that builds up naturally when working in this style. I finished my first mitt and am almost done with my second. My mitts are knit in Cumbria by Fibre Company. The twined knitting produces a lovely, dense and elastic fabric - perfect for hard working mitts that will hold up well and keep you warm in extreme cold climates. The photo on the right shows the wrong side of the mitt where you can really see the difference in a twined knit fabric.

The second class I took was Skaite-Maria Mittens: Swedish Sami Knitting Brought to Lfe with Laura Ricketts. The Sami are a group of people indigenous to northern Scandinavia. Skaite Maria was a woman who lived in the Jokkmokk parish in Sweden and this pattern was taken from mittens she made around 1900. These mittens are knit in traditional Rauma Strikkegarn yarn.

The final class I took was natural dyeing with Lichens with Judith MacKenzie. I loved this class and learned so much about this old way of dyeing yarn! Lichens are abundant in both the Pacific Northwest and Scandinavia which was perfect. Dyeing with lichen takes a while (3 - 7 days) but the results are completely light-fast and stable and the dye actually adheres to the wool proteins. Lichens only dye in shades of yellows to browns to beiges, but they can be over-dyed with indigo or cochineal to make a full spectrum. Once the wool has been dyed with lichens, the other natural dyes will be stronger in color and more light-fast than using the natural dyes on their own. Judith also covered how to responsibly harvest lichens and identify lichens and gave us samples of 6 lichens to take home and work with. I'm excited to try them out!

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