Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns 9781844483112

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Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns
 9781844483112

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T,'

0..

t^^ Icelandic NT \

Knitting ern Helene Magnusson

p

Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns

Helene Magnusson

Search Press

First

published

in

Great Britain 2008 by Search Press Limited,

Wellwood, North Farm Road, Tunbridge

Wells, Kent

TN2 3DR

Originally published as Rosaleppaprjon

nyju

Iceland 2006

i

Ijosi in

by Salka, Reykjavik

and charts copyright

Text, knitting patterns

Photographs copyright

©

Helene and

Skuli

©

Helene Magnusson

Magnusson, Signy

Kolbeinsdottir page 9 and Arnaldur Halldorsson page 64 English translation by All rights reserved.

may be reproduced

No

OrQabankinn

sf.

part of this book, text, photographs or illustrations

or transmitted

in

any form or by any means by

photoprint, microfilm, microfiche, photocopier, internet or by any

known

or as yet

unknown, or stored

in

print,

way

a retrieval system, without written

permission obtained beforehand from Search Press. ISBN: 978-1-84448-311-2

Designed by Helene Magnusson Layout by Ragnhei5ur Ingunn Agustsdottir English edition edited

and typeset by GreenGate Publishing Services

Table of contents Preface

5

Introduction

7

Inserts

and rose-pattern

insert knitting

Rose-pattern insert knitting,

new

Techniques

ideas

1

55

89

Rose-pattern insert knitting

90

Swiss darning

93

Band-weave edging

(slynging)

94

Knitting patterns

97

Conversion table

160

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Preface In

recent years, Iceland has seen a great revival of interest

in

everything associated with national tradition, a

trend that has not been limited to this country. Every nation's distinguishing characteristics have become

marked

in

recent decades, and

many

factors play a part in this:

communication

is

much

easier; there are

national borders on the Internet; most restrictions on travel have been lifted; there has been a Increase

in

the range of goods for

that are

open more or

are sold

in

to

less

sale;

around the

we buy the

clock;

less

no

tremendous

ingredients for recipes from around the world

in

shops

and no matter where we go, people wear the same clothes that

the same chain shops. The 'year 2000 syndrome' also had a major impact. Everyone was supposed

become cosmopolitan,

'cast in

the same mold', before the

taken was developing quickly, minimalism was at

its

height,

new millennium began. The

and fashion was sleek and

course

we had

plain, displaying

no

particularly national traits.

human

But fortunately,

beings are more complicated than that. They have a strong need and desire to

be seen as individuals, and throughout human a society as small as the

was probably

for ten years

and folk

art

one we

were put

live in

here

in

adornment has been very important.

history, personal

the north of Iceland, the closure of the National

significant in this respect.

into cold storage, so to speak,

The national consciousness, national

and nothing

really

In

Museum

traditions,

emerged to replace them.

It

was

museum into the twentieth century overnight - it took ten years to modernize it, give it the attractive form it now possesses, and make it accessible to the public, especially the youngest generation of artists and designers, who have developed a lively interest in the national heritage. Now, impossible to bring the

at the beginning of the twenty-first century, tradition

on

traditional

sung poetry

(rimur), a

growing

is

who emigrated to

North America, and

of Icelandic immigrants visiting Iceland in

tourism, and foreign visitors' interest

a traditional

flair.

in in

The effort to reawaken

and design.

in

is

innovative music-making based

and Viking

festivals are

establishing contact with the descendants of

this interest has

been reciprocated with the descendants

search of their roots. There has also been a general upswing

everything Icelandic has created a market for products with a sense of national tradition

because Icelanders have demonstrated great interest history

There

interest in the old Nordic religion,

held throughout the country. There has been an interest Icelanders

'cool'.

in

museum

seems to have been

successful,

exhibitions that are devoted to Icelandic

The

fact that the lifetime of

consumer goods

is

considerably shorter than

on design. People used to keep things much longer: they simply

them and it

aside

do

this

also

had more respect for them. But today,

continuous cycle that

is

children.

used to be has put

faster pace of

Our contemporary

mark

its

lasted longer, people took better care of

something stops working,

if

and buy something new. Consumerism and the from the time we were

it

we

are quick to throw

general have taught us to

life in

demands never-ending production,

lifestyle

a

the essence of globalization. Parallel to innovation, there has been a tremendous

increase in people's interest

in

the past, along with easier access to raw materials, which has

new

influenced designers' approaches to simpler object that can be used

more

products. Design

is

often based on need: an

artist

in

turn

produces a

The designer derives

efficiently that those previously available.

his

materials from a variety of sources. Nature, history, poetry, the sea - even the weather - might play a part in a

task he sets for himself.

new based on Over the

two

An

years,

people have tended to

are actually inseparable it

two

is

at a traditional Icelandic craft. artistic

emerge from the joy of creating something

traditional craftsmanship.

appreciation of crafts, and

an

innovative product might also

belittle crafts, seeing

sides of the

same

coin,

if

you

like.

There

very gratifying to see this book appear, as

The knitting of woolen shoe

much

design as a

now

is

it

written its

in

interested

those

in

history.

I

hope the book

will

become an

fashion, along with historians, collectors,

who want to

modern

its

own approach

traits.

and anyone

in isolation

Have

we now

design, or has the search for the true 'Icelandic note' just

which

life,

else

the inserts support

it

in

who might be

book was

enriches through

anyone

inspired by

it.

For

handicrafts and traditional design,

but to allow

it

to past forms of expression. Globalization

to look for each nation's distinguishing

in

essential addition to the collections of

preserve the heritage of popular culture as seen

the best option might not be to study this heritage

generation taking

in

is

and which preserved old

in Iceland,

are the distinctive features of Nordic design. This

the conviction that tried and tested design has a place

beauty and

and growing

takes an appreciative look

motifs and color schemes that are unfamiliar to most of us today. The motifs used utility

a rapid

with rose patterns {rosaleppaprjon)

inserts

form of knitting that was developed by ordinary people

the theory that geometric forms and

superior area. But the

to develop further, each

is

now

motivating people

discovered our unique traits

in

Icelandic

begun?

Maria Olafsdottir, designer [email protected]

Introduction In

the spring of 1996, just a few months after

lambing season at the farm Hraun Steingrimsdottir, the landlady's first

time

had ever seen

I

of the Iceland

the inserts part of

my

Academy

this

in

sister,

gave

of collecting as

many

more than 250

inserts,

1

me a

in

took a job

as a 'hired

hand' during the

later,

I

began studying

in

inserts. This

was fascinated by the

knitting motifs as

inserts I

a look at their history.

patterns, colors,

kept

in

visited

could and preserving them.

how

I

In

no time

intended to

inserts

I

recalled

Museum

the National

and color schemes of the

museums throughout the

without having any very clear idea of inserts

I

was the

the textile department

of the Arts and had the opportunity to do a project on Icelandic knitting.

as

saw there.

I

I

country, with the intention at

all,

make

I

had photographs of

use of them.

under the guidance of Agusta Kristofersdottir of the Iceland Academy

of the Arts, and inserts were also a source of inspiration I

I

the county of Su6ur-Pingeyjarsysla. At Hraun, Johanna

A few years

type of footwear.

wrote a BA thesis on

following summer,

to Iceland,

pairof tiny sheepskin shoes with knitted

had been given and decided to take

I

research and

2004,

moved

ASaldalur

then started taking photographs of the

In

I

was fortunate enough to win

when designed I

a fashion line as

my final

project.

The

a scholarship from the Icelandic Student Innovation Fund

to design hand-knitted garments using rose-pattern insert knitting under the supervision of fashion designer

Maria Olafsdottir, and in this

to be

work,

lost.

I

I

became

more convinced that the knowledge represented by the

all,

it

was twofold: to

and to encourage

insert tradition,

In line

steadily

therefore continued working with this material

The purpose behind

way. Above

cooperation with the Handknitting Association of Iceland. During

in

I

call

connected. The

as possible to

wanted to do what could to prevent I

with the book's twofold purpose, first

various ways, and this

it is

make

this traditional

divided into

knowledge from being sections,

and

which

are,

is

an attempt to work with the old knitting tradition

knitting patterns

which

I

have designed and made up on the

in

in

the woolen in

a creative

lost.

however, closely

a discussion of the history of the

very old craft of rose-pattern insert knitting. This section consists largely of basic research. part, there

was about

book gradually emerged.

use of this treasure trove

two main

section contains detailed descriptions of inserts

involvement

old inserts

people's attention to and stimulate their interest

many people

as

in

my

In

the second

an innovative way. This section contains

basis of the designs

and color schemes seen

in

the old

inserts,

along with an explanation of rose-pattern insert knitting and a description of the

way

the inserts were traditionally edged or bordered.

When

designing garments,

chose, and the traditional in

I

I

would

the book.

me

I

let

inspiration decide

like

to express

Museum

my

in

I

let

inserts

how

E.

sincere thanks to everyone

I

would

who

has helped

to thank

like

Gudjonsson read over the

debt of thanks for her many useful comments.

My

Halldorsdottir for teaching

me

weave

Eiri'ksdottir,

me

in

my

photographs.

me and

And

me

finally,

and

would

like

I

owe

all

of

her a particular

in

I

would

the traditional

like

way

to thank SigriQur

called slyngja (band-

president of the Handknitting Association of Iceland, for reading

knit the prototypes, I

other

helpful, providing

husband, Skuli Magnusson for

the Icelandic.

to edge pieces of knitting

making the model garments. Baldrun Kolfinna

Hallgrimsdottir helped

in still

writing and publishing

were exceptionally

part of the book,

first

in

over the knitting patterns. The Handknitting Association of Iceland provided for

And

mother-in-law, Sylvia Gu5mundsd6ttir, read through

the manuscript and suggested several improvements

edging), and Bryndis

new garments

these

in

I

certain motifs will be arranged.

curators and personnel throughout the country

Curator Elsa

reappear

the motif determine the shape the garment takes.

with very clear and useful information.

his assistance.

making them. The

inserts

repeat the same motif several times, making a continuous pattern out of

insert-motif. At other times,

patterns,

have tried to remain true to the original color schemes of the

methods used

various ways. Sometimes,

one

I

all

of the yarn needed

Jonsdottir, Kristbjorg Steingri'msdottir,

and family members and friends served

as

and Olga

models for the

to thank the publisher Salka (Bokautgafan Salka) for believing in

publishing a book on Icelandic knitting. As fate

would have

it,

Hildur Hermodsdottir, director/CEO

of Salka, turned out to be the daughter of Johanna Steingrimsdottir, the

woman who first

introduced

me

to the fascinating world of inserts. So you could say that Hildur put the final touches to a process that her

mother had

set in

motion ten years before!

E

1

8

Inserts

and rose-pattern

insert knitting

13

Knitting tradition 1.

Inserts

14

Description

14

Garter stitch inserts

16

Band-weave edged

Sewn

23

inserts

Technical aspects of 2.

Inserts (7),

page

21

inserts

Inserts, a

making

uniquely Icelandic

inserts

25

phenomenon?

31

Uniquely Icelandic inserts?

31

Uniquely Icelandic motif or intarsia knitting?

33

Uniquely Icelandic patterns?

37

Conclusion

46

Bibliography

47

10: Textile

Museum,

Halld6ra's room, Bl6ndu6s(1, 2, 3, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19,

Icelandic Handcrafts Society (8),

and National Museum

Skbgar Distna

Museum

24and27); Helga

(15 and 18); Suflur-Pingeyinga Distnct

of Iceland, Ethnological Collections (25

and

26).

W)rarinsd6ttir(4, 5, 6, 9. 11, 12,

Museum, Husavik

(16)

and

22 and

23); Sigriaur Halidbrsdbttir

Grenjaflarstadir (21);

Akureyn

Museum

(20)

Knitting tradition There has been a strong knitting tradition believed to have originated

monks learned to knitting

is

Egypt.

in

in

1

From there

and were instrumental

knit

spread to

it

584,

where

Christ's

skills

robe

are mittens and a cap, which

is

were known here

Icelandic knitting.

It

is

of this led

may have been made

and women.

It

is

were

colorful

in

the

first

become

showed the

or

inserts.

Dutch merchants. The oldest written in

half of the sixteenth century* By the first half

a significant part of Icelandic exports.^

is

only a

undyed wool.

more than

little

Everyone

half a century old.

make them warmer and more comfortable. They which was normally dark

a contrast to people's everyday clothing,

natural colors of

Knowledge of

These are knitted insoles that were put into footwear

of sheepskin or fishskin to

and presented

English, or

to Christian Europe.^

most prominent representative of Icelandic knitting today

also surprising that the

made

is

therefore surprising that there are so few sources that refer to

me to consider the woolen

such as soft shoes

skill

Bishop Gudbrandur's Bible translation, printed

is

should be the famous Icelandic sweater (lopapeysa), which All

century.^ Knitting

described as 'knitted', not woven. ^ The oldest Icelandic knitted garments

of the seventeenth century, knitted material had knitted - children, men,

end of the sixteenth

of North Africa and then to Spain. Catholic

all

teaching this

in

thought to have come to Iceland with German,

source indicating that knitting

Holar

Iceland ever since the

in

Inserts

have a history that can shed

light

in

color

on Icelandic

knitting traditions. I

will discuss

the technique of making

particularly Icelandic inserts. This survey^ in

'

is

phenomenon, and

if

in

so,

to

what

extent.

I

based on an examination of inserts seen

when

Iceland during the period 1999-2005,

Regarding knitting

inserts, their different types,

whether they can be considered

the national and main

collected photographs of

I

Iceland in general see, for example, tJorkell Johannesson, Ullaridnadur. Idnsaga islands

the motifs used to decorate

will also discuss in

II,

more than 250

Reykjavtk 1943; Elsa

E.

a

Gu3j6nsson, Prjon i

district

museums

different inserts.^

Island!, Reykjavik

1990; Fridur

Olafsdbnir, Islensk karlmannafot 1740-1850. Reykjavik 1999, pages 22-26.

and Ponting, KG., Cloth and Clothing

'

Harte, N.B.

^

Inga Urusddttir, Vefnadur, prjon

' Elsa E.

in

og saumur, Idnsaga

Medieval Europe: Essays islands

Gu3j6nsson,'F^gaeti ur fylgsnum jardar: Fornleifar

i

II,

in

Reykjavik 1943,

memory of Professor EM.

page

'

According to business records, 72,230 pairs of socks were exported

'

This discussion

'

In

in

1

983, page 368.

12.

og biiningarannsbkna',

fci^gu texti)-

Carus-Wilson, London

Skimir:

Ny tidindihins islenzka bdkmenntafelags, 1992,

the year 1624, along with 12,232 pairs of mittens. For

details,

see Jon

J.

no.

166

Aflils,

(spring issue),

pages 7-40.

Einokunarverzlun Dana a Islandi

1602-1787, Reykjavik 1971, pages 500-501.

in

some some

is

based on the author's BA thesis for the Iceland Academy of the

cases, identical inserts

were found

instances sent the National

in

the National

Musem one

insert of

Museum

of Iceland

Arts, advisor

Agusta

Krist6fersd6ttir,

March 2004

and the Skbgar Distria Museum. The reason

each pair that he acquired.

I

have never found any other pairs of

13

for this

was

inserts that

that the curator in Sk6gar. t>6r3ur

were

identical.

Tbmasson,

One important the National

1.

source of historical information was the replies to a questionnaire on shoemaking that

Museum

of Iceland, Ethnological Collections, sent to elderly people in the year 1964.^

Inserts

Description Inserts

were used

were seldom seen.

as insoles in soft shoes

and

therefore remarkable

how

It is

how much care was taken in making them. It is also surprising how colorful inserts were at a time when clothing was made of undyed wool, or in somber brown, black, beautiful

many of them

were, and

An amazing amount

dark blue, or gray colors.

work was put

into

a short lifetime

making them, considering what

most of them could be expected

to have, as they quickly

walked on them.

wore out when people were

Inserts

and people used them They were

of

in

practical things,

some form every

utilitarian items,

day. Inserts in fishskin shoes: Textile

intended mainly for

Museum,

Halldora's room,

BIbnduos.

protecting the feet and keeping Inserts

were

and the techniques

them warm.

for

making them

originally associated with soft shoes,

and

the use of inserts on a daily basis ceased shortly after people stopped using traditional footwear at the

beginning of the twentieth century.' Olga

Hallgri'msdottir, for

wearing sheepskin shoes with beautiful rose-pattern

'Unpublnhed source material •

Often noted

in

m the National Museum of Iceland.

t* (PjdahittaskrAning P)

in Pt>

1006, 7225, 7229, 7230, 7232, 7233 and 7258

(>C915, 989.

1719and7254

930

"(>l>971 and 1210.

"PP951, 1124 and 7254. '^ l>t>

947

^

946, 947 and 976.

t>t>

"I>t>1124.

^ Often noted

»

staair(1)and Husavik

and decreases and narrowed

"I>l>1040.

"

foot: Suflur-t^ingeylnga District

Museum,

Grenjaflar-

(2).

from

piece, knitting

side to the other, with corresponding increases

form

Rose-pattern inserts knitted to the shape of the

in \>P.

OP 1210.

17

stripes in the middle.

at each

end

in

order to

Sometimes,

and wider

inserts

also knitted to the

at the toes.*° Striped inserts

by having them

which was

cat,"

were

make

striped inserts/'

remembers the

needles were

relatively simple to

made

were thought very

1908).''-

Then they moved on to

which

beautiful,

I

was very fond

'When

of.

I

I

was

five or six years old,

this verse

skilled at knitting

litla

mjog og laglega

inserts for shoes,

rose-patterned

a

in

They were kept

in a

clothes chest with a person's best pair of shoes."^

a beautiful pair of inserts with a decorative pattern for

good

gift

inserts, said

were often given

garter stitch, such as rosaileppar^ and rosabardar^^ (rose-patterned inserts),

special occasions.

own

Everyone liked to

were considered

so small and beautiful.

skona*^

were worn only on

as gifts

and were always very welcome.

Girls

Often rwted

"I*

on the

first

day of summer (celebrated

in

tn M>.

1124

"1*981. 7229 and 7233 924. 999. 1039 and 1540

*•

Often noted

*'

Hulda

A

in

«*

Stefimd6ttif.

'Um

best."*^

Such inserts

Snjolaug Hjorleifsdottir from NorSur-MulasysIa county (born 1911).'^ They

"Pt>955

" (*

Sunday

gave the 'boys they were friends with'

•1*7230 *'

knitting

Such tiny fingers

ecu ad prjona

Decorative inserts knitted

wooden

about me:

finir

i

Haraldur Matthiasson

knitted inserts, white ones with red stripes, which

and my brother Jon made

Furdu smau fingurnir

leppa inn

inserts,' said

called a "scarf for the

GuariQur Porleifsdottir from Vestur-l'safjarSarsysIa county (born

inserts she knitted as a child.

for me,

make. Children were often taught to knit

'Many children began by knitting what was

just a strip of knitted material.

from Arnessysia county (born 1886)

were

shape of the foot, making them narrower at the instep

i^lemkan kbednad'. Hugur og Hdnd.

Hit Heimilisidnadarf^lags Islands. Reytcfavik

•1*7234

18

1979

Iceland to this day), at Christmas,

and

Colorful rose-pattern inserts: Sigriflur Halldorsdottir

Museum

and Rannveig Helgadottir

(3)

for birthdays, after

embroidered

who made Egilsson

in

it

(1),

National

became customary to give such

the tips of the

of Iceland, Ethnological Collections (2

inserts."^

'Handmade

gifts in Iceland.

ordin

er,

sanninda eg sendi

may be

As proof,

f^er,

gift

were

bought

old now, but

feel the sharp

sjonlaus JDessa Ijotu barda}^

a

initials

"

For example,

in

t>(>

1

one

piece,

sightless,

from heel to

toe,

I

in

000.

t>t>

District

memento

of the person

in a store,' said

SigurSur

I

pangs of

can

stil

love.

send you,

these ugly rags.

and sometimes to

"t>f 1009.

" Rhyme quoted

Skogar

were sometimes

Rose-patterned inserts and other decorative inserts were either knitted using garter stages or

4),

1892).^°

I

astar finn (do stingi harda.

The owner's

inserts, willingly given,

them, and were often as welcome as any expensive

Gomul nu eg

and

(5).

from Su5ur-f»ingeyjarsysla county (born

Til

Museum

964.

19

fit

the shape of the foot.

stitch in

Many

three

colorful

patterns were used: roses roses, step roses,

several forms, such as eight-petal roses,

in

hammer

roses; a pattern in

wind

the shape of a flowerpot, an

called hognakylfa;

and diamond shapes,

the latter inserts sometimes being called 'diamond

inserts', tiglaleppar.^^

mace or club

hourglass, a spiked

The main motif usually appeared with

stripes, part of

the middle, the tips being decorated

the main pattern, some other embellishment, or

Sometimes, only the

plain.

in

tips of

left

the inserts had a knitted pattern. "There

are also examples of decorative borders, and of leaves or zig-zag patterns on either side of the rose in the middle.^

The

inserts

I

have seen have up to eight

different colors.

made up

The pattern

of small squares,

is

two

often

stitches

and two garters (four rows). Eight-petal roses

stitch: Textile

and

pattern,

and knitted patterns were sometimes

Rose-pattern inserts with flower- pot motif

were the most common

combined with

cross-

Museum,

cross-stitch."

The knitting technique

called intarsia

Halldbra's room, BIdndubs

1863, for inlaid decoration in

be used

in

was used

in

originally

an

it is

Italian term,

This

was

dating from

in

connection with knitting since

called 'motif knitting' {myndprjon). Rose-pattern

insert knitting (rdsa/eppapr/dn) in

inserts.

wood. The term has gradually come to

other contexts as well, and

1957.^* In Iceland,

making

is

particular in that the motifs are

done

garter stitch "

Example of mtarsia technique: rose-pattern

wrong

"W> 936. 949 and 1069 " t4> 7233 " t* 952 and 973 "

Inserts

* Run.

belonging to the

Ricturd,

" fOrdb

A

Textile

Museum, HaHdOr

s roofn,

Bldndu6s

hatory of hand-knmmg, London 2003 page 228

Knstle«fsd6ttir,

'RteileppapriOn - s«r«slenskt myrxlpriOn?-. Hugur

og H6nd.

Rit

HeanlisiOnadari^iags Islands, Reykavik 1996

20

inserts,

side, Akureyri

right

side,

Museum.

In

done

new

motif knitting, a

every row while changing color

in

needed for each block of used is

color of yarn

drawn over the yarn that has been used so

is

order to prevent gaps.

in

You have to

color.

and

knit back

probably the only example of knitting back and forth

The method

circular. ^^

as there are then

one row

in

some

is

many

simple, but

in fact

it

I

in knitting, as

(this

is

women who were

"'

use

in

the middle. Four

with stocking

two

wrong

stitch

may sometimes have been

pairs,

When

doing

side of the work,

wool or

knitted at the

Fair-Isle knitting,

which

especially

linen

is

same

the yarn runs

usually knitted

common

and edged with

Icelandic terms s/yngy'a or s/eng/a^" It is

Elsa E. Gufljonsson in

in

in

the round

a

North Iceland. They

.^^

narrow woven band.

were used

for a type of finger

one of the most primitive and simplest

a conversation

in

kinds, also

Band-weave edged

done

January 2004. Elsa

is

a specialist

Right side out,

in Icelandic textiles.

The author

refers to her articles

often noted

and books

in

in PP. in

the National Museunn's survey, but no one had ever heard of

"

Helga Pbrarinsdottir (see footnote

"

Gibson-Roberts,

Priscilla

"PP 985 and 72 15 " Ryall, Pierre, Le tissage a

A

la

,

1

1)

had heard of a

woman who

could do

this,

it.

but she could not give the author any exact information.

Knitting in the old way, Colorado, 1985.

main, Montb^liard, year of publication not given.

21

inserts:

Icelandic Handcrafts Society.

1540 and 7257

" The question was asked

in

very skilled

inserts, for special

with the help of one foot (fotvefnadur).^^

**

in

actually always the case in the Nordic countries)." Inserts with

weaving.

"Of

colors are used,

inserts

and then cut

lined with

The

when many

knit simple hourglass motifs. ^^ But not

the round, using

band-woven edges were were

them

in

time on four needles. ^^^^ across the

most knitting was

to 15 bobbins could have been

They were usually knitted two together

i.e.

to be

rose-pattern inserts were considered artistic handiwork.^"

Fair-Isle knitting

inserts,

Up

These were mainly made by

with a band-woven edge were also finer

occasions.

is

is

have seen.

insert knitting.

Band-weave edged Inserts

yarn

ball of

to be added. Rose-pattern insert knitting

can become quite complicated

Children were often taught decorative knitting by having

everyone could do rose-pattern

bobbin or small

Icelandic handiwork, as

in

bobbins, which are difficult to handle.

of the inserts

is

special

because otherwise, the yarn that

forth,

end up on the wrong side of the block of color that

will

A

This has to be

far.

wrong

side out.

several places in this survey.

bands were woven for various

In Iceland,

know

uses,

such as garters and apron bands."

the technique of tablet weaving or did not have the opportunity to do

special characteristic of Icelandic s/yng/ng

people sometimes worked together."

is

In

that

it

were woven together,

in

did not

did finger weaving.*^

The

incorporates both sewing and weaving simultaneously. Two

seventeenth-century sources, there are examples of altar cloths

and a chasuble done with band-weave edging'" but eight threads

it,

Women who

two

all

^^

other examples of slynging involve inserts." Six to

colors, often alternating

dark and light colors.

same

beautiful to use the

pattern

was considered colors as in the

middle of the

the

in

It

inserts.^^

There were not very many different motifs. These consisted mainly of roses,

and

hammer

stripes.

rose."

or three colors usually

by

of a

The use of more than two

was

rare.

The

inserts

were

and the middle section with the

was felted more than the front and

rear sections. into

know one example

adapted to the shape of the foot

felting,

pattern

I

roses, eight-petal

edging

A

great deal of

inserts

with

work was put

band-weaving,

and even though the techniques used were simple, Band-weave edged

and

inserts: Elsa E

Su(5ur-t>ingeyinga District

Gu3j6nsson

(1),

Museum, Husavik

Akureyri

Museum

it

was considered

a very artistic

(2)

form of handiwork,

as

it

was very time-

(3).

consuming.'"

Solveig

IndriQadottir

from

PingeyjarsysIa county (born 1910) said of

her grandmother: 'Beautiful band-weave

" KUUdOra *'

Mnas

B)arndd6nir. Vefnadur 3 lilenikum heimilum, Reykjavik 1966.

page 98 and page 184

Jdnasson. Islemkir (iiddhiemr. Reykjavik 1961, page 128

••PP1069 (,

985

[.

.

Palsdottir of Su5ur-Mulasysla .]

scraps of black cloth or fine

various colors.'^" HallfriSur Rosantsdottir from EyjafjarQarsysIa county (born

4200.

(>f

out of

R.

roses in the middle with yarn or loose-spun wool, decorating

"f(> 1059

80

tauleppar^^ (cloth inserts), or

inserts),

with roses. Porbjorg

Jonas Jbnasson, see footnote 67.

"Pf

(2).

kinds of beautiful colors. These inserts had no special name,

rose-pattern inserts

"

Blonduos

made of yarn ends in

but they were sometimes called vadmalsleppar^^ (homespun wool

'5 t>l>

Halldora's room,

embroidery, braided embroidery,

23

I

was

six

or seven years old. They

were yellow or

brown, and best. For

I

all

kinds of yarn ends to

me, they were the

the inserts to

And

collected

finally,

my

mother.'*'

prettiest. I

I

sew

don't think

into them.

I've

have never seen any

I

liked the bits of red

and green yarn the

ever been as proud of anything

inserts like the

I've

sewed.

I

gave

ones described here.

there were sewn inserts called stangadir leppar

(stitched inserts). attractive, they

They would scarcely have been called

were intended simply

for comfort, not for

decoration. They were sewn together out of scraps of wool,

woolen

cloth, discarded clothing, scraps of knitting, or

leftovers,

and consisted of two or three

on the thickness of the material used.

layers,

'If

other

depending

there was more

than one layer of knitted material, you had to make sure that they were placed crosswise over each other, so they

wouldn't stretch so much,' said Sigurjon Eriendsson from Myrarsysia county (born

1889).^^

Burlap was sometimes

used as well, and according to Gudlaugur Jonsson from burlap insert was

Hnappadalssysla county (born 1895),

'a

the most practical' and least

slip

likely

to

when water got

into leather socks/hose (skinnsokka).^^

were often cut to the

size of

the foot.

They had piping around the edges and lengthwise

stitching.

Stitched inserts

They were sometimes edged with blanket

stitch*^ or

ends placed over the edge of the insert and cast These were not considered very good-quality

mentioned above, but they could be made

over.^^

inserts, as

I

Stitched inserts, right side

relatively quickly.

Museum of Akureyn Museum (3). National

•>>7215. •'I»952

"(1212 »•«

yarn

1040

• «)915, 928. 1002. 7215. 7218. 7225. 7230 and 7232

24

and wrong

Iceland

(1

and

side out: 2)

and

They were

An

a kind of

woman

old

Allt

vill

everyday

insert, as

it

was impossible to wear

called Spjara-Solveig (Rag-Solveig) put

lagid hafa, fjo fjad se ekki

nema

inserts

smalaskor).^^

knitted

were often used

in

insert.

when working

inserts,

decreases, increases,

making

number

" Gudmundur

etc.^°°

among

when

traditional soft shoes

for use

other things.

PP 952, 987, 1007 and 1069.

«'CP 1001. 1071.

"Pt'917. 929, 955, 979, 993, 1000, 1059, 1069, 1071. 1212 and 7401. OP 976, 979,

PP 947, 964 and 1039.

«

PP 930

1

124,

7233 and 7256.

«PP971,993and 1210

"

Porsteinsson, see footnote

74 and PP 928, 932, 940, 945, 985, 991, 1002, 1082, 1410 and 3818.

J6n Helgason and Stefan Einarsson, Breiddaela: Drag

til

sogu

Breiddals, Reykjavik 1948,

page 170.

'•PP915, 928, 991, 1002, 1082. 1410,3818,7229, 7254 and 7258 »»PP952. "" Mentioned

last

were disappearing from

use,

rubber footwear.

concerning the number of

depended on the person

This

Wsrsteinsson, see footnote 74.

"

in

specific instructions

1069.

«

and loddar.^^Jhe

inserts

no

inserts,

of rows,

intended and the type of yarn used,

* Gudmundur

the field or pasture [engjaskor,

according to Sigurjon Eriendsson from Myrarsysia county (born

were sometimes made with sewing machines

There were no knitting patterns for

^PP

in

rags: stagleppar,^ stagladir leppar,^^ stangleppar,'^°stangadir

At the beginning of the twentieth century,

Technical aspects of



an

tuskuleppar,^^ tuskubardar,"^^ tauleppar,'^'^ stangdulur,^'' stangspjarir,'^^ stongur,^^

stitched inserts

t5t>

trifle like

They were given various names that referred to the way they were made - sewn rather than

were derogatory terms for poor-quality

«'

insert.

very well:

the shoes people wore

-and the materials used, such as scraps and

leppar,"^^

1889).^^

without some kind of

spjor.^^

Everything must be done properly, even a

These

it

soft shoes

in PP.

25

for

whom

stitches,

the inserts were

The type of yarn used

were often knitted thick, strong,

for knitting

tightly

and warm

was important. Everyday

on large needles

as possible. '°'

in

order to

make them

and autumn wool being mixed

was wool sheared from lambskin. of wool, longer and

more

spring wool,' said Lara

county (born 1905 and

on

fine needles

and

resilient)

med

together.'"^

'Autumn wool

tog (the rougher outer coat

little

tended to

it

ollu

feel better

than the

and Karen Sigur5ard6ttir f rom Nordur-Pingeyjarsysia 1893).'** Poor-quality

spun from left-over wool.'°^ But knit

has

It

as

They were knitted from rough yarn

{togband) or a yarn consisting of different types of wool {upp saman),'^- spring

inserts

yarn was also sometimes used,

inserts for special occasions

were

from fine yarn - for example, from good

tightly

soft inner-

was the most important thing when

coat yarn ipelband). Appearance

knitting such finer inserts, because they

were not used very

often.

made of horsehair: Textile Museum, Halldora's Insert

Madur spyr nu

room, Blonduos.

ekki ad spahleppunum.^^

Of course nothing compares to the Sunday-best

There are examples of horsehair wet,' said

Gudlaugur Jonsson (born

inserts.

inserts.

These were

1895).'°'

'softer

under the foot, warmer, and did not stay

They were often put into shoes that were worn with leather

socks/hose (skinnsokkar). This was done because feet tended to

slip in soft skin

shoes, especially

if

leather

hose was also worn, and the shoes had got wet.'°^ Horsehair inserts were also sometimes used under

woolen on

••'

meaning that two

spindles, as for rope,

GuAmundur

'" «* ***

inserts,

although

inserts it

was

were used

finer,

at the

and the

Porsteinuon. see footnote 74 and t* 7231

947

Aslaug SverrHd6ttir, then curator of Artoxr Museum,

in

» convervation

in

January 2004

•*W>7232 •"I* 1039 '" Expression mentioned

m

Pt>

1

146

•^(1212 •"l»987 •"Pt>1212

26

same

inserts

time.

If

horsehair was used,

were then knitted

in

it

was spun

the usual way.'°^

As noted above, a variety of colors were used

in

the

inserts. In

the days

no colored yarn could be wasted. 'Left-over yarn was highly suitable

make was

when

wool that had been dyed using

When wool was dyed

the rough wool (togband) used for

inserts. 'This

the children liked working with

at

home, the

left-over

was decided by

inserts. This

individual taste.

colors increased the variation in the patterns used.

I

A

greater

number

have to say at

color combinations of the inserts that originally caught

my

use,

in

natural colors

manufacture-dyed

dye was used to color in color,

and

from Strandasysia county (born 1900)."^

Imported yarn was also used. There do not seem to have been any hard and used for

common

you could even

often produced a considerable variation

said Ingibjorg Finnsdottir

this,'

Undyed wool

Icelandic plants, as well as imported

yarn from the nineteenth century."^

in

for knitting inserts;

use of the short ends of a skein,' said Sigurdur Egilsson (born 1892)."°

used, also

they were

fast rules

about the colors

of colors or combinations of

this point that

it

was the

colors

and

attention.

V

1^

A

variety of colors

Halldora's

and color combinations give

room, Blonduos

(1

and

4),

Skogar

a very different

District

Museum

(2)

appearance to the same pattern. Rose-pattern

and National Museum of

"opp 1009 '" Fridur 6lafsd6ttir. see footnote

1,

page 24.

'"t>t>1069.

27

inserts: Textile

Iceland, Ethnological Colleaions (3).

r

Museum,

As mentioned above, most inserts were knitted

two rows back and

is

captured

in

the

prevented inserts from rolling up, and then they

them

However,

flat.

I

do know of two examples of garter-

with linings."* "^ Torfhildur Sigmundsdottir of Noraur-Mulasysia county (born 1906) had

seen examples of inserts where stocking in

which one hryggur (spine)

stitch also

did not need to be lined in order to keep stitch inserts

in

forth.'" Garter stitch ensures that a great deal of air

which makes them warmer. Garter

inserts,

garter stitch. Bjargey Petursdottir from NorSur-

county (born 1902) had heard the name hryggjaprjon

isafjarOarsysIa

consisted of

in

stitch

was used

in

the middle of the insert, and garter stitch

the tips."*

with band-weave edges, slyngdir leppar, were knitted using stocking

Inserts

them

to keep

flat

and prevent

double-layer inserts and then

their rolling up. Torfhildur Sigmundsdottir said

it

were edged with band-weave.

I

was not necessary to

line

stitch

and then lined

some people

knitted

them. She did not say whether these inserts

have only found one example of

this

type of

insert,

and there was no

woven edge."' Elsa

E.

Gudjonsson, former curator of the Textiles and Costume Department of the National

of Iceland, told

me about

crocheted inserts

owned by the Danish

have not heard of any other examples of crocheted

I

National

Museum

in

Museum

Copenhagen."^

inserts.

People crocheted around the inserts so that they would keep their shape better and not stretch as much. Inserts this

were often knitted with

made

a slip stitch (the first stitch of

the edge prettier and

it

was

each row

also easier to crochet

left

around the

unknitted)."^ 'People thought insert,'

according to Haraldur

Matthiasson (born 1908).'"

"•P«)973 '" J6o Hetgason

"Mrvserts

and Stefin Einanson, see footnote 97. page

no 196S-86 Natiorul Museum

1

70: 'Inserts

done

in garter stitch

and

lined

were

for everyday use'

of Iceland, Ethnological Collections

••(7233

" '"

Inserts rx3

1%2-2I4

HaW. Margrethe.

Natiortal

Museum

Primitive shoes

An

of kelartd. Ethnological Collections

Attheokjgical-ethnologicsl Study Based

upon Shoe

page 169

"PP 999 and 1124

"PP

1124

28

finds from the Jutland Peninsula. National

Museum

of Denmark.

Copenhagen 1972.

were too narrow,

inserts

If

a

few rows might

be crocheted around them to make them wider.

Sometimes these rows were knitted rather than crocheted. After

around the

two

insert,

was

Most Rose-pattern inserts with a knitted edge: Elsa

son in

(1)

two

and rose-pattern

inserts with a

colors {stykkjottlr): National

Ethnological Collections

E.

Gufljons-

crocheted border

Museum

of Iceland,

'stitches

were picked up

using four needles, and one or

If

crocheting was done

in

two

inserts

a nail in a

had

a cord {tengsli) with

beam

in

the kitchen.^"

which to

dry, for It

was

tie

example

also

them together when washing them,

to tie

colors,

called stykkjott.^^^

them together and hang them up to on

ail

garters knitted,' explained Sigurjon Eriendsson

(born 1889).^^^ this

this,

good

so they

(2).

were

less likely

to get

lost.

These cords were also called

tengslar,^^'^ hankar,^^^ vindingar,^^^ lindar,^^^ stog,^^^

snurur,^^^ lengjur,^^° or endar^^^ (denoting different connections, loops, twists, bands, lines, lengths, or ends).

The cords were made of strands that were braided or twisted together and the

resulting cord

was

attached to the insert at the point where the middle section and tip met. SigriSur Bogadottir from AusturBarSastrandarsysIa county (born 1907)

"'(>(>

tells

us

how this was

952

'" For example:

(>(>

955 and 1018.

'">0 952.

'"W7215. '»PI>952and7215. '»|5t>917, 930,

973and976.

'"t>t>1212. '»t>t>1018.

'» W) 7232 and 7233 '»'

t>P7229

29

done: 'Four to

six 8-

in-long ends of the yarn

used for the insert were cut off and twisted together, a knot was tied at both ends, and they were cut

in

needle at the beginning of the tip.""

'It

half in the middle,

was

and threaded into each

insert using a lacing

also possible to attach the cord at the middle of the heel, but then they

out of the shoe, and people thought that was 1898).'"

The cords were often made

at the

ugly,'

adds Eirikur Einarsson from Arnessysia county (born

same time

as the border

the band-weave edge attached."'' 'The cords were then the insert

when

it

was

in

tended to work their way up

laid

was crocheted around the

insert or

under

the shoe,' says Hallfridur Rosantsdottir,

mentioned above (born 1898).'"

Most of the

were

inserts

felted, but not in the conventional way.

Ingibjorg Finnsdottir (born 1900) explained this as follows: 'They

very loosely threaded together at the edges, and

while they were basted together

same shape. '"^ When other,

and someone

most knitted

had a nice Inserts

felting

was

sat or lay

like this,

washed and

were

felted

so that they acquired the

finished, they

were

laid

one over the

on them overnight. This was done with

material.'^' After this treatment, they

were smooth and

finish.

for special

occasions were felted with

particular

care.

Gufilaugur Jonsson (born 1895) describes this as follows: the inserts

were 'washed and treated

in

a

way

that

was

called

'"(•976

"PP999 '*'

Often noted

mPP

'»P»>7215

'"K)1069 '"

J6n«

Jdnasson, see footnote 67

30

napping.

Felted everyday insert: Skogar District

Museum.

They were kneaded or rubbed to

the nap. Then they were

raise

laid

under the bedclothes

in

order to press

and dry them. "^^

The way

inserts

that the right

and middle

were put

way

finger,

into shoes mattered. Haraldur Matthiasson (born 1908) said:

was thought

to do this was to take the front end of the insert between the thumb, index finger,

put the insert into the shoe, and then push

the index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. shoe. That

'It

forward into the toe of the shoe with

it

Some people folded the

insert in

two and

stuck

it

into the

was considered rather crude. '^^^

2. Inserts,

a uniquely Icelandic

phenomenon?

Uniquely Icelandic inserts? Footwear has

a long history.

The

first

shoes are thought to have been foot-wrappings. People eventually

started cutting material, cloth, or skin

common

all

all

and by peasants

in

needed some kind of

protecting the feet it

it

together to make shoes. This type of footwear was

over the world. ^"^ Soft shoes were used not only

of North America,

These shoes

and sewing

when wearing

was hot and people's

Russia

and the

in

Iceland, but also by the native peoples

Baltic countries, to

name

just a

insert, especially in cold climates. Inserts also

these thin shoes, and they helped

few examples. ^"^

served the purpose of

make them more comfortable when

feet sweated.

Straw was commonly used for

inserts, for

example

in

Lapland,

in

the Aran

isles

and

in

Ukraine. Soft

shoes lined with straw were considered to work better under wet conditions than the soled shoes

"«t>t>

1212.

'»M>1124. '*>

Hald, Margrethe, see footnote

'"

Kaarma. Melanle, and Voolmaa, Aino, Estonian

1 1

folk costumes, Tallinn

1981, pages 58 and 83.

31

known

techniques and tools were used to choose and work the straw and place

at the time. Special

Wool was sometimes used twigs

the

in their

year.'"" In

shoes

in

Roman

Knitted inserts

times, felted

straw. '"^ In Norway, the Scandinavian

woolen

inserts

were used

in

in

other countries besides Iceland. The closest

Modern shoes

was sewn onto the bottom of the

have various kinds of

also

wool, and synthetic materials, that serve the same purpose as the

In Iceland,

inserts,' said

Sami put juniper

the legionnaires' sandals.'""

layers of felted knitted material that

useful in slippery conditions.'''''

than the old knitted

shoes.

seems to have been the Faroese skolingar, which were knitted shoes with

soft shoes

double

in

northern Sweden during the warmest period of

in

shoes do not appear to have been used

approach to the Icelandic

were very

wool mixed with

the summer, and tree bark was used

in soft

inserts consisting of

as well, or

it

insoles,

shoes.

made

of leather,

they are naturally no better

inserts, 'but

Gudlaug Sveinbjornsdottir from Arnessysia county (born 1927)."^

hay was actually used

if

no

inserts

were

available.'"' This

was

a last resort,

however. Porolfur

Jonasson from Su3ur-Pingeyjarsysla county (born 1892) remembers the vagabond 'Gvendur Dullari' always had hay

something

vildi

visna

i

him shoes lasted much longer

shoes, because according to

Farmer-poet

soft.'"^

Feginn

og

in his

eg vera

skonum

Pall

Olafsson saw hay

stra

I'd like

1

18

"• HaW. Margrethe. see footrwte

1

18

'**

Oakes. Alma, and

**

Gu*un Hadda

Hill.

and wool were used

Margot Hamilton. Rural costume

BiarnadOnir. HeimilisiAiaaarboair'.

Its

ongin and development

Hugur og Hdnd.

in

quoted

in

W> 3818

'» t* 947. 952

'*'P«>908

1069

32

if

all

step

my

said:

would be

faults.

the weather turned very

same purpose.

Westem Europe and

••PP933 is

shoes

Rit Heimilisidnadarfelags Islands. Reykjavik

7230

poem

I

for the

••Pt) 1540

'« W>

know your

ever so light on

inserts in

you always walk on

your shoes.

yfirsjonum minum.^*^

"^ Hald, Margrethe. see footnote

'* Tbe

in

Because

hay was sometimes placed under the

shoes and

'if

who

to be a wisp of hay

and wither

f^inum.

shavings/^' unspun horsehair,'"

"' r*

in his wife's

Pvi lettast gengirdu eflaust a

A wisp of

They

the British

1996

Isles.

If

cold.'^°

Wood

shoes proved too big, a wisp

London

1

970. page 148.

of hay might also be used.'" Gray tears or holes in them.'^"

If

moss was put into shoes when walking through

the weather was

lava fields,

if

shoes had

paper was sometimes used to cover a small hole.

dry, stiff

Stulkur, sjaid [Did Steinunni stikia a pappfrsskonum.^^^

look at Steinunn

Girls,

Felt inserts

made

in

her paper shoes watching her step.

of discarded hats, for example,

were put

into the

footwear worn on boats.

Pall

Palsson from Nor5ur-isafjar6arsysla county (born 1883) said they 'were considered soft under the foot and

easy on sea-breeches'.'^^ Knitted inserts were most often used, however.

Uniquely Icelandic motif or intarsia knitting? As discussed above, rose-pattern inserts intarsia,

known example

the oldest

socks which

combine

been very common, There So this in

skill

knitting or similar

likely

it

was used

methods

was taken to

that motif knitting arrived there from the British

this technique.'^"

'"t>|5

932.

987 and 1009.

'«()(>

7401.



970.

|)|>

She

calls

it

of knitting

in

'geometric knitting' as

it

in

the Nordic countries.'^^

more than the techniques

Isles

England

or northern Europe. in

1935,

'" Rutt, Richard, see footnote 56, page

39

'" For example, Pagoidh, Suzanne, Nordic knitting,

London 1992.

'" Regarding Mary Thomas, see for example Rutt, Richard, see footnote 56, page 148 "" Thomas, Mary,

Mary Thomas's

knitting book.

New York,

1

938, page 111.

33

of knitting did

German merchants.

in

It is

Mary Thomas,

which she explained

involves knitting geometric patterns

She takes the example of tartan socks from the Scottish highlands with

'*•

t>t>

in histories

Iceland by English, Dutch, or

an expert on knitting,'" published a knitting manual

colors.

exclusively.

to Iceland via the Nordic countries any

general. As discussed above, knitting

therefore

and motif knitting.'" But motif knitting does not seem to have

at least not in the sense that

come

did not

garter stitch use an old technique called motif knitting or

of which dates from the fourteenth century. This consists of Egyptian

Fair-Isle knitting

no mention of motif

is

in

a

in

many

diamond pattern

(called Argyle), knitted using intarsia technique.'^' But these socks

of no tradition outside Iceland isolated

examples of

Curator

Iris

where

intarsia

were made using stocking

was used with garter

stitch,

even though

I

stitch.

I

know

have seen a few

this.

Oldf Sigurjonsdottir'*"' pointed out that different techniques, textures, and patterns would

not necessarily have emerged at the same time. Striped inserts are therefore probably older than rosepattern inserts, as they use a simpler technique. As explained above, they were knitted various reasons. Rose-pattern inserts

may have emerged

later

when

intarsia knitting

in

garter stitch for

was combined with

garter stitch.

There are several examples of color knitting Reykholt, a small scrap of knitted material

date from the seventeenth century.'"

in Iceland.

For example, during archaeological excavations

was found with

Elsa E.

a Fair-Isle

border

Gu5j6nsson discusses the

in

two

colors,

possibility that

in

which might

the oldest

known

source on color knitting stems from 1695, the so-called 'corporal' (communion cloth) with knitting

in

red

and white.'" There are a few sources from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that mention decorative knitting (utpryon).'"

A

Dutch physician named Martinet,

Heiga Jonsdottir from Halsasveit. She 'had decorative knitting

in several colors.''^

lost

who

handiwork published

reference

is

Socks of

Ins OtOf S«gur)dnsd6ttir. the current curator of the district

'"

Eka

E

Guflj6nsson, 'figxli ur fytgsnum )arAar'. see footnote 4

'**

Elsa E

Guflj6nsson. 'Fagsti ur fyJgsnum )ar&ar'. see footnote 4

"mskdli

this

opinion,

it is

does, for example, in the

difficult to tell

kiarxk.

Or&ab6k Hiskdians RitmiHikrA.

lexis hi

museum

is.

in

OaMk.

31 January

Mamnet

in

a conversatiori

in

January 2004.

2004

Translated from Danish by Sveinn PAIsson, LeirArgarflar 1798,

page 37

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4 P^Pm^t

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sweater

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1 pageJ[36\

1

Child's blue

L^*^ with roses

sweater

i

Sylvia's

page 138

id

cap

pink sweater

page 140

»te mtttpn^

itrs

lhgr;beret

paf^^

ji

i«iV

"^ Child's cap ant page 153

I Fimm

a milli fyrsta sinn

ad prjdna. Vertu id in verk ad prjdna varastu ad glapa og gona.

fDU ferd

PP979

I Five

on hand the

You'll

first

time

be knitting now.

i

Concentrate on the work at hand, Don't go casting looks around.

ow scarf fln\A/prnnt