September 2020 Meeting Recap: Selbuvotter: The Iconic Mittens of Norway with Renate Yerkes a.k.a. Elephino PDX
by Kimberly Williams
On a night when a lot of us needed a break from reality and the comfort to be found in our knitting community, I hope you joined the meeting early enough to hear Anna’s spontaneous Puddletown theme song. It lifted my spirits right away.
The member tip theme this month was how to pick up stitches when you have to frog several inches. "What’s frogging?" you ask. It's when you “rippit, rippit” for quite a few rows. First off, breathe, be calm when your knitting is off the needles. Then try one of these tricks. Set yourself a save point by running a lifeline as you work, especially useful when you are working on a new skill or complicated bit of lace. It's easy to do with a set of interchangeable needles by using the hole in the needle tip meant for tightening a cable to a tip. Thread some scrap yarn through that hole leaving a good tale on the other side. Then knit as normal, the scrap yarn will get carried through each loop of the row and create a row that you cannot frog past. Or, you can add a lifeline afterwards by threading a tapestry needle with scrap yarn and carefully weaving it through all the stitches in a row. Here’s a good place to remember the previous tip: the right leg goes in front. Another method is to rip out to one row above and then slowly pull out the intended row, one stitch at a time and immediately pick up that stitch. Anna suggests pulling up on the stitch above to open up the stitch you need to pick up.
Next month, the theme is all things cables. Do you have tips on how to work with cable charts, how to remember the twists, even tools you love to help? Send them to Anna and she’ll work her magic to teach us all something new.
Our speaker this month was Renate Yerkes, a.k.a. Elphino PDX, who spoke with us a year and a half ago on double knitting. This time she presented the history and style of Selbu mittens. After separating from Sweden in 1905, the Norwegians sought a national identity and used knitting to help them find it. The Selbu mittens became part of their national image after a young girl in Selbu, Norway wore a pair to church featuring the selburose, or eight-pointed rose. Everyone wanted a pair of the striking two color, lush mittens. By the 1930s, Norweigans were knitting 100,000 pairs every year exporting them to surrounding countries. Standards were set to maintain the traditional styling through proportions and the geometry underneath the many motifs.
The mittens offer several areas to customize the design. The cuff can be ribbed for winter sports or lacy for a bride’s trousseau. The top of the hand usually has a larger scale motif, while the palm generally has a smaller scale repetitive motif. Both sides of the thumb can be different, the underside often bearing initials of a newly wed couple or a family emblem.
Renate’s favorite needle size for knitting Selbu mittens is a 2.75-3 mm needle, typically she favors ADDI flexiflips for ease of turning the tight corner on each side. A great question was posed about the floats on the inside of the mittens snagging on rings, but Renate said the floats are short and with the thinner yarn and dense fabric created, it isn’t usually a problem. Who else immediately started hunting patterns and yarn to make themselves a pair?
We are thrilled that every month members come forward with wonderful pictures enabling us to keep up with the virtual show and tell.
See you all next month.
Want to watch the full meeting? Click here.
Missives from the fabulous women who got the ball (of yarn) rolling.