February 1, 2007
The Mittens of Rovaniemi
Warning: This post is picture heavy. My sincere apologies to my friends on dial-up.
While I was at Madrona, I was lucky enough not just to teach some classes, but to have enough holes in my schedule that I could take a couple. (This is a job perk that to a knitter, is the equivalent of having a company car. It rocks.) My favourite was The mittens of Rovaniemi, with Susanna Hansson. Now, by way of disclaimer, Susanna and I are friends. (Or, I think we are. If we are not, she is doing a very good job of making me feel that way and I'd rather not have any illusions shattered.) I admit that one of the motivations for taking her class was that I would get to be in a room with her, and that doesn't happen real often, she being in Seattle and me being in Toronto.
The second motivation was that the last time I was with her in Seattle, she had showed me these incredible mittens from Lene Alve in Finland,
and when I had tried to ponder out by what magic they had been knit, Susanna had declined to tell me, saying that it was A) too complex to show me over lunch and B) the only thing she had to dangle out as a carrot to get me to take her class where she would teach this.
I was gripped.
Now, what those are, and I imagine that you cannot quite grasp this just yet, is mittens, knit in several colours in the round, in intarsia, only continuing in the round (never turning back to purl), without carrying any colour at any time (with the exception of the base colour) and without ever twisting them together. They break all the rules. All of them. I'm going to show you some pictures of how this happens, but I'm not going to tell you exactly how to do it because it is A) too complex to show you over lunch and B) the only thing she has to dangle out as a carrot to get you to take her class where she would teach this.
Before Susanna started, she gave us a little historical and cultural context, and tried to divine how it is that Rovaniemi, Finland might have come up with this unique approach. (Credit where credit is due here, Susanna owes much of her knowledge to Lene, who actually lives there and puzzled the thing out with her. Lene is, in case you are unfamiliar with her, a genius and an artist.) She drew a parallel between this sort of knitting and weaving, which was totally lost on me until Susanna showed us a mitten in progress.
That knitting needle holding the yarns holds them like that the whole time, without them ever becoming tangled. (If you do it right. Mine got tangled once or twice as I learned this brand of knitting voodoo.) The class was marked as "advanced" and I was stunned to discover that we were a room of advanced knitting students all being challenged to learn. Susanna is a very good teacher, since none of us ran ourselves through or threatened to put needles in our eyes. (I realized that it was a really hard thing when I listened to Karen Alfke, sitting in front of me doing Yoga breathing - or maybe it was Lamaze, to get through a row.)
They are knit with that seriously lovely Finnish yarn Satakieli (No. I can't pronounce it either, but it's good yarn.) and (in my case) 1.5mm needles. (That's size 000 for my American friends.) This is enough to make you a little bit woozy, and Susanna, in her infinite wisdom, had decided that approaching this challenge - difficult knitting on tiny needles with wee yarn, would be rendered insurmountable if you hated the colours, let each of us choose our colourways from her stash.
At least half of the fun of this class was watching people pick their colours. (It was remarkable how many knitters chose yarn to match their outfit.) Then we coloured our charts to match our choices -
and went forth. It was stunning. It was compelling. It was clever and addictive and the cumulative sound (it's very quiet) of 18 knitters completely resetting their brains was boggling. There was no chatting. There was no conversation. There was only the silence of learning and deep thinking and the occasional expletive. (I am guilty of that.) I paid very careful attention, since while I could execute the technique (after a while) I was extraordinarily concerned about dropping a stitch, since I knew for certain that there was no way I would ever pick it up accurately again.
Just looking at the work, how would you ladder back up a mistake? I was careful to avoid this dilemma. Once you get the hang though, once you integrate the new way of doing things, it was not doing this manouver that was hard....it was stopping. A portion of the patterned part of the mitt demands the effort, a part does not. I know that I wasn't the only person in the room who, when confronted with an ordinary knit stitch that didn't need special treatment...stared at it like we had never seen it before. Knitters kept just....stopping.
Every once in a while someone would stop and look at exactly what they were doing, puff up with pride and wonder and smile gleefully.
We put them all together on a table at the end (nobody finished, naturally, even though we were doing mere wristlets instead of full mittens) and the sight of them all together gobsmacked all of us.
The strands, the ends! The size of the plan....the potential for disaster....
it was huge. (Not one person had a tangle, thanks to the freakish knitting needle weaving thing. Ever knitter picked their cuff back up our of this orgy of strands and walked away unharmed. Wild.) I snapped this picture while we were at it.
Three knitters working the same pattern, with the same yarn, on the same size needles.
If anyone ever asks you if you think gauge matters much, think that shot over.
I finished my cuff at home this morning:
and I admired the way this technique leaves you with an inside as beautiful as the outside:
Posted by Stephanie at February 1, 2007 2:19 PM
I reflected on something Susanna had told us. She had travelled to Finland to learn this. She and Lene had worked hard to turn it into something teachable, they had prepared all the handouts, worked up the charts, done the reseach...amassed the yarn and taught the class and at the end of the whole thing...when Susanna was done teaching this to the 18 people in her class, Susanna figured that this meant, herself included and to the best of her knowledge, that since this was the first time she had taught it, that there were now 19 people in North America who now knew how to make the Mittens of Rovaniemi.
It's an honour. The world is shrinking all the time.
Absolutely gorgeous mittens! Not sure I can do that though...
Absolutely beautiful and scary at the same time!
Anyway to get her to make a DVD so the rest of could learn?
Unfortunately, I can tell you what happens when you drop a stitch. For me it meant carefully tinking back to the 'plain' row below the start of the 'odd' stitches.
Moral of the story? No working on the Rovaniemi mitten sample when sick...
They are absolutely gorgeous, and worth every broken neural synapse. Not to mention, WAY cool the effort she went to in order to pass that knowledge on to others. Some of these regional arts are on the bring of extinction, and it makes me feel good to know the knowledge is being passed on for future generations. Awesome.
(I'm too blown away to come up with something intelligent to say... sorry).
It's the connection to another world and another culture that would be one of the main attractions to me...although the world may be shrinking, and that's good in some ways, hopefully by learning and appreciating others' uniqueness, those techniques/products/quirks/languages/you name it of other cultures...don't ever die out. I would hate to have a world where we're all the same, wouldn't you? I LOVE those wristers!! One of the "Group of Nineteen"...lucky you! P.S. Did you turn off your power??? :)
Gobsmacked. I think that technique would need much more hands-on time and question-answering and expletive-ignoring than a DVD could ever deliver.
I feel honored just to see it in progress!
You know that's what I love about knitting - that no matter how long you've been a knitter, and no matter how proficient you are - there's always a new technique you can learn. And there is always someone who will help you with it too!! The mittens rock.
This is the first "NEW" thing in knitting I've seen in years. I really want to go home and try to figure it out tonight. I hope she's teaching at MDSW, Rhinebeck, or Stitches east this year, I'd love to take that class.
Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous!
I noticed right away the colours repeat upward with the flow of knitting and not across. This is smart when you are knitting in the round. But that's all I can figure out!
I want to learn this too...
also saw these on Lene's blog.
These are so beautiful - how many pairs have you now made?
*tilts head. Boggles*
So, from what I'm seeing, the colors start at the cuff. As the knitting goes around and around in the giant spiral o'knittiness, a color is picked up when you reach it, knitted with the basic color carried through, then dropped. And so on and so forth, such that the colors travel vertically?
Holy cow. You've got these witchysneaky wrists and fingers to be able to do something like that.
Oh my goodness!!! Those mittens are gorgeous! The process looks so amazing - I can't even wrap my mind around it...Wish I lived somewhere near her to be able to take a class to make those! Wow...just....wow!
Wow, that's crazy! It makes my head hurt to try and figure out how you start up the colour portion again when you come back around and the strands of coloured working yarn are at the end of the colour section where you left them.....ouch. Nice wristlet though!
Wow. I've never been one for mittens, but wow. That's a challenge I'd love to take up! Wonderful!
I'm afraid I would have a tangled mess! The mittens are gorgeous. Sounds like a great class!
I sooooo want to know how to do it!! I am too far remote to be able to make it to any classes. *pouting*
Please - I second the motion of a DVD. There has got to be away to accomplish a class on DVD.
Gorgeous and intriguing. Thank you for sharing this with all of us - and to Susanna and Lene for all their work to teach this to knitters in North America. I love Lene's blog and she truly is a needlework artist.
Cooooooool. Where and when is she teaching this again? I neeeed to know how to do that.
wow. That's fascinating. She's in Seattle, huh? Does anyone know if she teaches any regular classes out there?
I would buy a book or instructional dvd on that technique in a heartbeat. Make that half a heartbeat. (I'd take the class, too!)
That should read "...nineteen Knitters in North America who know how..."
Knitters with a capital K. (Somehow it doesn't seem enough. Too bad all caps means shouting.)
I'm trying not to break into a chorus of Eric Idle's song "Finland," but I'm having a devil of a time of it.
Those mittens are just spectacular. I keep staring at them in mute adoration, as if they were the Infant of Prague. And your penultimate paragraph nearly brought me to tears. Thank you, Steph.
Does this mean you'll teach us now? Those mittens are outstanding! I'm quite jealous.
I am so jealous that I could cry. See that, you made me cry. Thank you for showing us what heights there are yet to achieve. And for smacking me into humble nothingness. (I work harder when I am humble). I will now belly-crawl into a corner where I shall curl up into the tiniest ball and whimper.
Gorgeous! There should be a book... or DVD... or something. I want to learn!
I've never seen anything that beautiful.
My wee tiny brain just can't make sense of it, but it's beautiful!
Stunning. Simply stunning.
Lene's blog is a very favourite of mine, check on daily and when there's a post to read...always always delighted. She is such an incredible woman, and so generous with all she shares of her knitterly talents, sewing, photos, and life in general in her, 'neck of the woods'.
Those are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. How can I find out when she is teaching a class in Chicago?
and I meant to add.....Susanna is absolute genius also!
Rebecca, according to her website (follow Harlot's link) she is giving the mitten lecture to the Windy City Knitters Guild on April 13. Lucky you!
These remind me of the Latvian mittens. But what a technique. Definitely one I'd Love to learn. Fantastically beautiful work.
Fascinating! I have misplaced my breath!
And suddenly, I feel I must learn this technique. Thanks for sharing!
I just had to reread that, I was so enthralled. I'm going to go drool on the pictures again now.
New poster here..
I am soooooo in love with those mittens.
I would buy the book, DVD, and put the husband up for auction to raise money to attend the class!!I am a new/old knitter having just picked up the needles again after many years.
Carolyn in Massachusetts
Remarkable and beautiful.
Ditto on the DVD, for those of us who can't get to a knitting conference. How else can we learn this?
I am so jealous that I could cry. See that, you made me cry. Thank you for showing us what heights there are yet to achieve. And for smacking me into humble nothingness. (I work harder when I am humble). I will now belly-crawl into a corner where I shall curl up into the tiniest ball and whimper.
*WOW* Now that my chin is firmly back in place. I think I dropped it on the floor when reading your post. I WANT TO LEARN! I may have to get to Seattle and take a class. If she ever offers one there. The next one seems to be in Chicago in April?
To say you have got me thinking is an understatement.
Fortunately I have no time to do anything but concentrate on my next book!
Hey, Susanna, how about writing a book on this subject? I think Stephanie has just created a huge market for you!
Gorgeous. Definitely not knitting to do while watching the Super Bowl this Sunday! I would love to learn this technique also, but I get a little nervous with that many colors.
Beautiful! They will look great with your Olympic sweater.
That's really quite something. Very, very cool.
OK, my mind is officially blown.
Also, I want to learn how.
"Satakieli" is Finnish for Nightingale. Just thought you might like to know.
This technique I've got to learn. I'm a Finn but have not seen it done.
Holy crap! That is amazing! And beautiful! And I wanna learn it toooooooo!
I saw this pattern on one Finnish knitting website on some socks and I kept wondering how to do that... because it looks cool.
I'm now in the middle of my exams, trying to manage things I happily ignored for three years of study, writing seminar papers and stuff so all knitting I can do while studying is a plain, randomly striped sweater knit in the round...
But when I'm done with school, woe upon the yarns. Btw, does someone know some nice patterns for handpainted mohair or shall I sell the damn thing on eBay?
Fantastic. Those are wonderful, beautiful, pride-inspiring pieces of work. Congratulations on keeping-on with the learning!
cool! i did something similar (a lot simpler!) a few years ago, when i made "jump rope socks" with moving icord's on a deep pink back ground.
i had 6? (8?) icords, each in different color, (each worked as s vertial stripe) and 1 skein for background.
I never (and don't think i would have) figured out the knitting needle to hold the skeins, *but then my i cords were front and back and moving (one went 360 degrees round the sock before it ended!)
those mittens are incredible . (one day soon i'll make a pair (and them maybe i'll take a class and learn from my mistakes!)
I think that was a GREAT idea! Why don't you teach us how to do it on your blog? Take us each step through making a wristie. Do I hear someone 3rd-ing the motion???
You are so, so very lucky to have learned this magic trick. My brain is spinning just looking at the pictures... unless it's something akin to roositud, I have no idea how this kind of intarsia is even physically possible. (And by "physically" I am of course referring to the laws of physics. The hardcore ones.)
"Each one teach one"...if each of those 19 taught 19, and each of those taught 19....eventually, the skill set might migrate all the way to the Green Mountains of VT.
We have the wool. We seek the technology.
Unless one of your classmates is nearby?
Holy goodness. How does...with the...and all the strands...and the...holy goodness. I have nothing intelligible to say.
Click on Google News and type in "knitting nuns." Apparently some Greek nuns went on the lam for some knitting-related foibles.
full body goosepimples.
my needles are trembling at the thought of being involved in such an undertaking!
someday... many years from now... perhaps i'll learn... many years from now, when i can comprehend it all...
it is breathtakingly beautiful. Stephanie, you should be immensly proud of yourself.
Wow. I'm echoing someone here but honestly that's it, just, Wow.
Oh nice ... really, really nice!
Smashing knitting. Please tell her she must write a book and soon, for all of us who seldom get to go anywhere and take classes and such. I am glad to know there is still something new and different to be learned!
That is just amazing. I am awed. I so need to learn how to do this.
OMG! This is absolutely fabulous! I want to do this kind of thing really badly! The special issue of Piecework Magazine on knitting had an article in about Marta Stina who died at the turn of the century that created blankets with a technique similar to this one for the mittens. I want to learn these kind of techniques because these techniques would lend themselves to turning my oil painting and ideas for painting into knit paintings! There hasn't been a class in my area on techniques like this (not that I have found) and I have yet to find anyone near me that knows how to do this sort of work. I can't find instructions anywhere but I think this is the sort of thing that one needs someone to teach them. Absolutely fabulous! It is true artistry. I also love it because its something that is being kept alive and not allowed to disappear. I want to learn this and spread it around as well, keeping the creative arts alive!
Absolutely stunning - and very very cool. Do you think it could be done on 2 circs?
Actually there are 20 knitters in North America who know about this technique. I took a class in Finland and learned from a teacher talking about 90 miles an hour in Swedish. The knitting was easy compared to keeping up with the instructor's commentary. It was a wonderful class and the technique is one of those that puts everyone in awe of your skill. Amazing how many wonderful things we can do with two basic stitches.
My most pressing question (and let me tell you, there are many) is when are we all going to Finland?
I want to learn. Oh for a book- please pretty please.
I am in awe. And yes, I want to learn how to do them, they are amazing. I hope that she teaches classes somewhere. Anywhere.
Just when you think there is nothing left to inspire, something like this comes along! And honestly, my eyes hurt looking at what was involved, but to learn something like that. Wow. Very cool.
Wow! I don't think I'll ever manage that level of knitting experitse! I am impressed.
This is making my heart race in a fashion that is not altogether pleasant, but then, not altogether UNpleasant either. Sort of like the first time I tried to wrap my head around Cat B's mobius technique.
Very cool. I love learning new things and this sounds like it was such a fun/challenging class.
So how do we get Susanna (or Lene) to come to Canada?
I *need* to learn this. I'm tearing up at the idea of no tangles.
They are beautiful.
Wow, those are beautiful. They look very difficult, I hope one day I'll be able to master a project like that. Are there any published patterns like those mittens?
Wow, that's so amazing. Wish I could do that but I have a long way to go before I could. I get still get the odd tangle when I do fairisle.
Of course we are friends. Dont you remember me professing my love for you?
Though I decided to save a little for the smoking Belgian doctor!
How about if the 18 original students teach 2 others, and then those 36 pass it on, etc. We could all know by next Christmas! (And just imagine the knit-along)
All I can say is ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh.
I think that says it all.
WoW! I love what you have learned and would also like to learn it. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
Breathless, dizzy, envious, Wow!
Does Susanna ever come east of Madrona? I would be willing to buy her a seven-course lunch if she would teach me to do that.
(You have achieved your ambition btw: your pictures are beautiful and fascinating and make me desperately want to learn how to do this without giving me the slightest clue how.)
That looks awesome! I'm still a baby knitter but someday, I'd give those a shot!
So. Freaking. Cool. I want to learn how to do that, too! Does she have a website where we can beg her to come teach at our LYS?
Awesome and unbelievably beautiful. I love knitting that take you out of your mind set. How generous of Susanna to bring this technique to a few lucky knitters, and how generous of you to show the rest of us in such glorious detail. Breathlessly awaiting a book...?
I imagine this isn't the sort of project done while the cat is jumping on your lap, or your child is running around begging for sugary items. Very very cool indeed. Thanks for sharing, and let me guess, you were wearing... green.
I have found something to add to my list of knitting techniques to learn/try.
Wow... oh wow... I'm not sure if I'm intimidated beyond words or excited beyond belief.
I'm proud to be a Finn.
(Shh, don't tell anyone I'd never have the patience for the Rovaniemi mittens. :))
When I saw you folks come out of the class you all had this glaze over your eyes. This... dazed look of oversaturation and absolute fear that it would all tumble out of your brains.
Incredible. Yup, just call me blown away.
This is when I sit back and admire it full on, knowing that I have no desire to do this.
Kinda like enjoying Michaelangelo's David and not feeling the need to order Italian marble and a set of tools. Just love the fact that it's there.
Thank heaven for the Knitters among knitters like me.
I've got a plan. Susanna comes to Toronto to teach a class. She stays with you so you've got lots of time with her & we all take the class so we can learn to make cool mittens, it could even be a two day class, pleeease!
Please, please tell me that there is a book coming, otherwise I will have to wait until my children are older and I have a bunch of travel money, and I can't wait that long. How can I live knowing that a radically unusual, beautiful, and traditional knitting technique exists and I can't find out how to do it??
That gives me a brain cramp to just look at.
This just boggles me, and I think I'm a pretty decent knitter. Just wow.
even though i saw them in progress at madrona, i am awestruck at the sheer beauty of the finished project.
Oh my gawd. I thought steeking was gut-wrenching, and then I see these mittens.
Fascinating. And hooray for keeping traditions and the arts alive!
Wow! I am in total awe over the technique!
And I'm in total awe that you were able to learn this before the end of Madrona...wow!
Tell her (Susanna) that if she ever publishes a book/dvd combo, she has a ready market!!
Those babies are the Knitters Without Borders grand prize, right?
Seriously though, I will patiently wait list indefinitely for a seat in a workshop. Amazing.
Those are gorgeous, inspiring and absolutly frightening at the same time :-)
I wnat to be the 20th person to learn.......please oh pretty please with yarn on top. STUNNING and INTRIGUING.
That really is something.
knitting is art for shure.
I WANT TO LEARN. I have been reading Lene's blog for a while and just love her work.
Wow!! Susanna, if you are reading these comments, put me down for a book also. Way cool!! Steph, those colors are so you!
Wow!!! What fun!! Will she be teaching (possibly) at Stitches East next October?? That's a class I would love to take. How splendid to learn a whole new knitting technique! Just when we thought we knew everything!!! Ha!!!
ooohhhh ..... coooooool!! (I'm amazed. That's about all that I can think to say. Just .... cool.)
This. This is where we see the gaping divide between:
Your undershirt? Plain stockinette.
Your polo shirt? The "knit" material that doesn't unravel that same, normal, knitting way? The American terms for stockinette is "jersey" and for that thing that you're doing is "tricot." Yes, I know "tricot" is the French word for knitting. In American-Textile-Industry-ese, "tricot" is the word for "knitting like a wild Finn on a machine." At least, I'm pretty sure that's what's going on here.
And to prevent this comment from becoming unbearably long, I'm going to do an extended post on my blog about it and about the tech details of what's going on here, and how this all works. I'm even excited about doing some diagrams with my colored markers.
Tune in (hopefully tomorrow) for a series on knit fabric anatomy.
those are beautiful!! I really hope there comes a day when those of us not as lucky as you will get to learn how to make those things!!
That is so, so cool. I took a geography class not so long ago, just for grins, and I did every project required on Finland. And, naturally, I had to go looking for lots of stuff on the textile and fiber traditions of Finland...only I couldn't find that much...(And I'm from Minnesota, where there are several generations of Finnish immigrants?)
So these I had not seen. Cool. I need to take this class. I need to find books and stuff...and find that Finnish yarn...
Now if you get Susanna and Ken together maybe they can make an interactive CD ROM that can make sense to the rest of us. Yeah new knitting!
That is really cool! They are so pretty. She needs to come here so I can learn that.
This kniitting is the same as Change Ringing!
Have you heard of change ringing? The UK style of church bell ringing that does patterns instead of melodies? That is what this style of knitting is, I think. Stay with me here...
In your amazing wristlet each color can shift only one stitch to the left or right in the next row, right?
The same is true of the bells in change ringing. Each ringer hauls on the rope in turn (probably I'm not using the proper lingo), so you might hear A B C D E F G, and in the next round of clangs there can be a different order... such as A C B E D F G.
But because of the design of the rope and the bell, the ringer can slow down the next clang or speed it up by only a small amount. That bell is going to ring, and it's a huge heavy bell.
So the bell can shift forward or backward in the sequence of bells by only one place each round.
The bell ringers (just as addicted and loyal as knitters are to knitting) are actually doing this Finnish knitting, and the knitters are doing bell ringing.
In either case, there is a very real danger of strangulation. Be careful out there.
Wow. Interestingly, the thing that intrigues ME the most is the inside....
I always feel strangely deprived when I read this blog. It never fails. I'm sure it's me and not the blog.
Bowing in your general direction . . . I am not worthy . . . Absolutely amazingly mind-boggling and gorgeous. And how cool to learn something so few people know how to do!
It's so beautifull and intriguing (sp?)! I do hope there'll be a book or something about this soon 'cause that'll be the only way for me to learn this technique soon (unless I win the lottery - which I never play on - and can afford a trip to the US or the Finland).
Wow. And Susanna's comment, and then Evelyn's about the bellringing--priceless.
I have an entire scarf that looks like that. My mom picked it up at a church sale. I spent so much time studying it in an attempt to figure how it could possibly be done that she left it with me.
I still don't understand.
::THUD:: Oh. My. Gawd. (Plus giggling over the 'lunch and carrot' bit.) A beautiful, beautiful report, Stephanie. Wonderful pictures, wonderful prose, I felt like I was almost there. Totally fascinating. That picture of everyone's wristlets together? What a lovely bunch of rainbows! (Not to mention a whack of knitters with really excellent color sense.) Lordy, it's just unreal. Exquisite. Thanks for the great report, thanks to Susan for letting you take pix and make the report - and let's not forget the teaching and Passing It On. Dayum. I can't come up with enough superlatives. ::happy sigh::
To use a well known Scottish phrase signifying the highest praise possible - Thats no bad, Hen!
They look gey bonnie.
Really beautiful, and what an amazing technique - I must get up to speed so I can attempt this.
Knitters without borders indeed!
Just as every new doctor should spend a week as a hospitalized patient, every knitting instructor should take this course! Congratulations on mastering this technique!
That's just wild--knitting on the edge in the extreme... a part of me is dying to figure it out, but most of me is content to work my Arwen cable and , like reading the Iliad in lyric form, save it for retirement.
These are amazing. I've been lurking around your blog awhile, but this is seriously worthy of a post (and I'm sure the 118 other people who posted would agree!). Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
DVD! DVD! DVD!
Must. Know. How!
Riotous clapping!! Just beautiful and utterly terrifying all at the same time, kind of like when your team has a one-goal lead in game seven of the Stanley Cup. Must improve my skills so I can learn how to do that (the knitting not the playing hockey, obviously).
Wups, I meant Susanna, not Susan. Sorry, my brain had temporarily melted. And I agree on a book or DVD. I don't care if I could ever manage to knit them or not; I'd just want to be able to look at the gorgeousness for inspiration every once in a while. Can't we get Interweave Knits or someone interested in a project like this?
That is amazing! I'm so glad knitting is a craft that is shared instead of a "trade secret".
That is ...magic. It's like watching a David Copperfield special and trying to figure out how he did it. Are you Penn, or are you Teller?
That is the coolest bit of knitting I have EVER. SEEN. And I've read this whole blog, back to front.
That's simply amazing. Thank you for taking the time to both write up the description and photo-document it.
WHOA. While looking at those pictures, I think I forgot how to walk, breathe, and fast forward through commercials. *what is my name again?*
Okay, Steph, you got me really troubled.
I live in Germany, Europe.
Now, should I try to learn Finnish (because Skandinavia is not that far) or move to America?
Persuade Susanna to write a book or make a DVD, pleeeeeease!
I think this is the best post I've seen yet -- both because it's funny and because it blows my mind in a knitterly way. And I'm not just saying that because I'm drunk at work (sorry. I work at a winery.) You took us where I would not have otherwise gone before -- to an advanced knitting class. I especially love the gauge shot. what an eye-opener. Thanks for being such an inspiration and the highlight of my workday. I hope we can have a beer someday. I'll go back to lurking now.
--your knitting groupie
I can't even think of what to say...
::huge sigh of delight/amazement/knitterly lust::
From the comments:
cat Bordhi (!!) suggests a book
Red suggests an interactive CD-ROM, with Ken's help
sivia (Harding!!!) is waiting breathlessly for a book
multitudes are asking for a DVD and/or book
Susanna posts herself
So... Susanna, are you listening??!? The masses want it all! Please, please, please!! I think a book and DVD combo would completely rock. I've taken Susanna's Bohus class at Stitches West; she is as awesome a teacher as Stephanie says. It was a fabulous class. And, Susanna? Even if there were a book/DVD combo, I'd take this class from you in a heartbeat; and I know I wouldn't be alone.
BTW, Evelyn's comparison to change ringing was genius. She's so right.
Omg... I'm going to Finland. Immediately. I don't care that I have a student (piano) coming tonight. I don't care that I need to pass my english/econ class to graduate. I don't care. I'm going to Finland to learn this.
The goddess herself should come to us lesser mortals that can't escape to yarn heaven... we need her too!
ANy possibility of a DVD to purchase explaining how this is done? More to the point, for those of us challenged still by socks . . . any chance of a sedative with that DVD to be used in the event we do twist the yarn?
Truly beautiful. I'll save it for my next Olympic project . . . or my first trip to Madrona.
I love reading your blog and I'm always so jealous when you get to go to these workshops!! How do I find out if there's one being held in my area?
Oh, I so belonged at the Mitten class with Suzanna at Medrona! Searching for her next class right now, and if it's not somewhat close by (from CT) I'll have to trek to the west coast. Thanks for the great photos!!!BTW, I had great fun knitting two pair of Flower Rain Mittens and made a hat to match... check it out!
One word: GASP!!
Holy carp, those are *beyond fabulous*. My husband and I are both in awe...
I love that sound when an entire room of people makes a giant leap in consciousness. It's the best, most full silence ever.
Absolutely marvelous !!! Can you just imagine what a muggle would say if they ever saw a class like this !!!
Whoa. That's really all I can say.
Oh wow! Lucky you to be one of the nineteen. What an incredible learning/knitting experience.
As a teacher, I loved your description of the intense joyfulness of this learning!
Wow, those are so cool! I would love to learn how to make those.
it makes my heart beat faster and my body quiver to just watch this in progress! could this be fibre-love-itis?
That looks fun! And beautiful. But would in reality probably make me cry with frustration.
When I read what runswithscissors wrote, I thought of something from a Pete Seeger album. He was playing a little melody on his banjo, and said that the tune never ended, it just went trickling on, like a little mountain brook.
And music was like that, as well, he said. Little clear streams of crystal water, tiny streams of music all over the world. (He was speaking of folk music, rather than any of the big branches of music).
And clearly knitting is like that, as well. A tiny stream in Finland, that was becoming thinner and thinner, is now being joined by people from Canada and America, and being joined by other people in other lands, so the thin stream is becoming wider and faster as an ancient skill is learned by others.
The mittens are breathtaking. Susanna and Lene, thank you for taking the time to learn this skill, and being willing to pass it along, so that others could learn. Stephanie, thank you for being willing to learn, so that you could show others and inspire them. I'll never be able to make anything so beautiful, but I love seeing them, and I enjoy being part of this little mountain stream that is gathering strength as it flows.
I SOOOOOOO want to learn. All the projects are beautiful. Apparently I'm too far east here in Pittsburgh to catch a class, though. I'd happily pay for it AND buy a DVD. You have to convince her to do both. Please, please, please.....
Awesome! All three of you deserve a big round of applause (I'm including Susanna and Lene). This was a very inspiring post. Thanks!
I just recently finished my first Latvian mitten and loved every minute that I knitted on it...even the minutes that I wanted to poke a teeny tiny needle in my eye. But THESE! I MUST learn how to knit these! I think my life depends upon it.
you know that making your brain learn something new--and so EXTRA new--has caused it to make many more connections, helping keep your brain young?
Sorry, I'm a brain geek ^_^.
hey, i was sitting right behind you and i didn't hear any swearing .
isn't it sweet to be in such an elite group?
Those are so pretty! (I'd never be able to do it cuz I'm a clumsy oaf...)
Oh - so elegantly written.and wonderful photos as well.
You are certainly the Queen of prose (in addition to being the "Oprah of the knitting world", as Karen A. so accurately stated)
reading this was a joy, and made me want to be right back in that class again.
This is insane! Beautiful, but insane.
very VERY cool. i wish i could take that class!
1. Product: Beautiful!!
2. Process: AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!
The inside!! It's the inside that sealed the deal for me. I mean, the right side is stunning. Just beautiful, but the wrong side? So TIDY! So... also beautiful! How cool that we can all still be taught new tricks!
beautiful wristlet! i am so proud of you for finishing it at home. will you make another?
I have seen these on Lene's blog....she is amazing....but I had no freaking idea. They're beautiful.
What an amazing fete that technique is!
Um...did I miss it? Please don't forget to tell us what yarn you used for those gold/brown striped socks that you posted before you left. The clues from others didn't seem to pan out, and I must! make! those! socks!
Pretty please? TIA
Okay, I am now officially insane with envy. I have to get to one of these fiber-fest dealies!
Wow, I am beyond intrigued. I'm learning to weave on a loom this year, so I may need to take that class someday and learn to combine my fiber hobbies. :)
The trick must be in the vertical nature of the patterning and the fact that the colors don't "jump" across stitches, they just "flow" back and forth, one stitch at a time, across a very circumscribed distance.
Hmm, wonder if I could work out the details on my own...
Oh my. I think I need to go to Rovaniemi. Like, stat. (And I also wonder where I could find that yarn here in Finland. All those colours. Oh, the colours.)
Satakieli (which, by the way, is pronounced exactly the way it's written, Finnish having phonetic spelling) means nightingale, by the way. :D
Beautiful! Really a piece of Art.
Wow! That's just so compellingly beautiful! I want to learn how to do that, too...but I think that I'd probably end up throwing the whole project across the room. :-p
Yesterday I showed this to Minna, my Finnish knitting friend who teaches me weird languages sometimes and thanks to her I can knit in Finnish. She said, the least surprised that yeah, she knows this pattern, it's cool, she loves it and she will find me some instructions. So I'm waiting eagerly.
Actually I did probably something similar like two years ago when I wanted single vertical stripes on a sweater and I guess it might be something similar to what I invented.
Wow! you've boggled my mind and it hurts just a little bit.
Those are amazing. My head hurts just looking at them, but they're amazing. I wanta be a Knitter when I grow up.
Whats her teaching schedule? I absolutely HAVE to know how to do this! Never mind that I live in the southern US and wear mittens about 2X per year!!!
She needs to come to Pittsburgh to teach me. I'm so, so, so wanting to learn!!! :(
Those are just gorgeous. I can't wait to see your next adventure into the world of Rovaniemi mittens!
Amazing and beautiful work. I could picture the quiet room, too. Minus the expletives, of course. :)
Gorgeous, fascinating and utterly undoable for me (with two small boys running around).
Congrats on bending your brain out of shape. Have at you, Alzheimer's!
I've never signed up for a knitting class, other than my very first beginner class over two years ago now. This makes me want to go out and sign up for something today...anything...just to be a part of something grand and magnificent!
Awesome job! Now, the challenge has gone out to figure it out on my own. That or the stubborn delusional stupidity I seem to suffer from has reared it's foolish head.
Sock yarn, here I come.
Stephanie--I love your blog, love it, but that picture toward the end of the post with the whole class's Rovaniemi knitting on the table? It makes me feel a bit sick, worse than how I feel when I contemplate steeks. I think I might have to go have a lie-down now. If you're going to have such R-rated shots (R for Rovaniemi?), maybe have them as a link. Just an idea.
i dont shy away from much when it comes to knitting. i am more then willing to give most things a go. but when i saw that picture of Susan with all those little bobbins... i tried to run away. Of course prohibiting me from doing this is the server rack and a wall behind me. So I decided instead of causing millions of dollars worth of damage to my company I would continue reading the blog post.
Those mittens/wristlets are fantastic!
Thank you so much for sharing that story, and all the pictures! I've never heard of such a techinique, how fabulous! Thank you again!
Absolutely stunning knitting going on there! I suspect this will the next Knitting Olympics challenge for many of us.
There are a LOT of Finn's up here. I wonder if there are any from Rovaniemi. (Because I grew up around a lot of Finnish speakers, I know how to correctly say all the words in this post! :)
Well, IMnotsoHO, Susanna, or you, MUST come to the US North East, and teach me! Soon!!!!!!!! I like learning hard knitting things...and it's getting hard to find something hard!!!!! I guess that is the natural side effect, though ;-)
At least make her write a book!
Hmm, we've got to book that woman for our Knit-In next year. Wonder if she'd like to travel to Wisconsin where she will definitely need to wear those gorgeous mittens. Looks like you had a great time learning the technique. Doesn't it make you feel superior to all of us ordinary knitters??? New techniques always make me feel superior--at least until I meet 10 others who also know the technique.
Oh, I ache to learn that! Right now, I'm helping teach a group of 10 to 17 year olds how to knit. So, we're all doing garter stitch afghan squares. Ack. Don't get me wrong, watching the lightbulbs light up in their minds is a wonderous joy, but, my oh my, I WANT my own lightbulb moment. And this looks like an excellent one! Heck, just that no-tangle knitting needle thingie looks like a cool place to start!
Lene? Susanna? Book? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeez??????
Whoa! Intense. And amazing. I'm in awe. That seams more intense than entrelac or double knitting or something. Woo.
Lene is a genius. Five seconds spent roaming her blog shows one that. So is Susanna, for taking the time to recognize and work out a way to pass on this art form.
And Steph? The gauge shot - that was like a punch in the gut of reality and made me feel better about having sizing "issues" of my own.
HMOG!! It is super fantastic. My Gram and the great aunts used to do incredible incredible stuff with multi-colored yarns and such. I will always regret that when they offered to show us (my sisters and I), we declined. This is the type of skill and artistry that sings to the soul.
I am speechless. That is too f-ing cool.
Just WOW!!!!!!! speechless!!!!!!!!!!
I absolutely back up the request for a dvd. Just show this response to a publisher of some sort, and they will have to agree to some sort of disemination of the information. Your teacher and/or you might even be able to profit from the further wonders of knitting.
Wow. I'm appreciating the socks my aunt knit for me years ago even more now. If you wanna see my (very used) Rovaniemi socks, have a look at here: http://mustaavillaa.blogspot.com/2005/10/thinking-about-socks.html
After reading your post I went searching for an old Finnish knitting book I have, and actually found the instructions for the mittens. Maybe I should try knitting them! Thank you for a fabulous post!
Maybe someday I will be able to even try something like that. Amazing. I love learning new things. cate
Beautiful, beautiful. There are more people who can knit these mittens in North America. Anniki Martilli, weaver, knitter, native of Finland, and member of my knitting group, teaches this method to students in North Eastern South Dakota. I haven't taken the class, but I've seen her and other students with yarn wrapped around the knitting needle dangling from the mitten, so I know it's the same thing.
Seeing it done in person is equally mind-boggling.
Wow..those are just gorgeous! I would love to try something like that someday!
Susanna will be teaching this class again at the Nordic Knitting Conference in Seattle the first weekend of October.
I do something that looks like weaving, where I pass a yarn from the back of the knitting to the front and just let it lie across, along the row. I keep knitting with the main colour, but the "woven" colour obscures the knit stitch and presents an effect like fairisle, but much faster.
But I don't think this is the same... Lovely and thanks so much for sharing.
I had hoped you would share more of your "Madrona" experience with us and you did not disappoint! I am in love with the mittens of Rovaniemi, the colors, the texture, everything that makes knitting the magical, sensual experience that it is! Coincidentally (or by design of the Great One?), I have just gottena library book: Twined Knitting, and am quite besotted by the technique and a pattern for Half-mitts on pg 99 (maybe you have this book?). And then you go and put a link to Lene's blog in your post...it must be the knitting gods, the timing and all. I am dying to learn this technique, but it will have to be by book or DVD (if I can ever get my freaking PC to once again play a DVD..for some reason it no longer will and this is infuriating me...sorry, more than you want to know). Any ideas about where I can find clear instructions in a book or on a website? This book has instructions but I still can't make any sense of them. Anyways, loved, loved, loved this posting!
This is sure something I would love to try - a true challenge. It is absolutely beautiful.
My mom knit me those mittens when I was a kid but though I liked them a lot and thought that they were pretty, I didn't know enough to appreciate the work she did on them. I wonder if she would teach the technique now that I am familiar with the art and can appreciate it?
And yes, I'm a Finn too :-)
this is simply stunning work, and so timely for me as I had just read the piece in Vogue Knitting regarding this style of knitting. I was so intrigued by this "floating" and how the writer said that if things looked tangled, you could simple hold it aloft and it would untwist. Magic! I may never do intarsia again if I can learn this method.
How beautiful! I also would buy a how-to DVD in a heartbeat. I hope that if Susanna heeds our pleas and makes a DVD that you will let us know ASAP.
I have only been knitting a few years, but I've learned that projects that look insane in the spring might actually be doable six months or a year later. For me, however, those knittens are years and years away. I'm sure of that. But they will definitely keep me inspired (as will your wedding shawl) in the interim, and that's worth quite a lot. Thank you.
My grandmother would knit things with this technique as well, and even though she taught me lots of things about fibre arts, this is a particular thing I didn't learn from her. (Yes, I am a Finn.)
Reading this post gave me yet one more reason to dive into colourwork after a long while with lace...
As for this particular yarn, the manufacturer is www.vuorelma.net in case anyone is interested.
It's so great to see that these mittens are getting some attention outside of Finland! (Yes, another Finn here). I've seen a few things knit in this technique, but I haven't learned it myself yet. Absloutely wonderful!
The thing about knitting is........it is a life-long learning experience. I am in kindergarten, ok, maybe I'm in first grade now. I see that most of you are in grad school, and you are STILL excited about it! I know I have tons to learn and that is what it is all about, huh? NOT just the end result, but the process.
Those mittens are so beautiful, I hope someday to be able to ~~even think~~ about producing them. For now, I am happy where I am, learning in baby steps but still learning....and having so much fun doing so! :)
I enjoy and learn so much from all the enthusiasm that I get from Stephanie and all of you who post! Thanks!
Fantastic! I started reading Lene's blog last year when we both participated in Bitchin' Mittens. She is consistently awesome!
P.S. if I ever win the lottery, I'm spending some money going to knitting events and workshops. I'm so jealous!
Gorgeous. Great photo lesson in gauge too - I could have used that a month or so ago!
I was in Susanna's Bohus Stickning class on Friday and loved the Swedish technique and my finished wristlets, but I now know what I'm signing up for next year. These are just gorgeous. Way to go Susanna!
Joan, near Tacoma and our mountain
Stunning! I think I may have it sussed out (Its an engineer thing). I would DEFINATELY run a life line every few rows so the tinking wouldn't have to be to before the colorwork.
I accidentally found a finnish webpage with a pair of socks in this technique. What a dream to have both socks and mittens! The URL is http://www.novita.fi/ohjeet/kauneimmat_villasukat/index.html
The technique is Wonder-Full. What makes me ever-so-happy is to see how many adventuresome knitters are out there (the responses here). I've been *accused* of rating my classes as Beginner or Intermediate when the opinions indicate they should be rated Advanced. But - it's not the skill level, it's the desire to try something new and different. If you can knit and purl, you should be able to do any technique as long as you really WANT to and have the mindset to UNDERSTAND what's happening with the stitch. And, I love the fact that traditional, ethnic time-tested techniques are being studied. Applying those techniques of provocative, manipulated stitches to contemporary knitting is what my book (yes, working hard at it) is all about. And, yes, it involves Estonian knitting (kin to Finnish - I studied in Finland, too).
Anyone who writes is a writer. Anyone who makes art is an artist. You needn't be paid for it. (Lawyers who work on a pro bono basis are still lawyers. Doctors who volunteer to work for MSF are still doctors.)
However, if you don't write/make art, you can't call yourself a writer/artist. Lady Catherine in Pride & Prejudice comes to mind. (Criticizing Miss Bennett's skill at playing the piano forte: "Had I learned, I would have been a true proficient.")
Just do it!
Wow, that's truly amazing - thanks so much for sharing this with everyone here :)
Make that 21. I got it! What a blast! I borrowed my sons colored pencils, graphed, and just finished my first inch with my family around watching the Simpsons. Feeling a little puffed up, I am.
Pattern is traditional Finnish pattern (especially in Lapland) and known as Inari mittens. Pattern can be found here too: