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Ilga's Knitting World

Monday, February 27, 2012

Icelandic Color Knitting

An Icelandic-Canadian friend of mine recently visited Iceland and brought me this intriguing book on Icelandic knitting: Icelandic Color Knitting: Rose-Pattern Insert Knitting in a New Light.

When designer Helene Magnusson moved to Iceland in 1996, she became intrigued with the knitted inserts used in former times as insoles in soft shoes. The earliest of this traditional footwear were made of fish skin or sheep skin. The woollen isoles kept the wearer's feet warm.
Since these were worn inside the shoes, they were seldom seen and many could have been made with the plainest knitting. But those early Icelandic knitters--as knitters everywhere--were not content with working plain Garter Stitch. These mini-templates became a chance to play with colour and design motifs.

Helene undertook an exhaustive study of the the tradition and history of these woollen shoe inserts. She photographed over 250 examples and wrote her BA thesis on the subject.

Like any self-respecting designer, she could not simply have stopped there. She went on to use many of the motifs as well as their pattern construction to develop her own designs. She uses the tradition as a basis for creating her contemporary garments.
There is a collection of many different pieces: sweaters, vests, mittens, caps, and scarves.
The baby blanket is a particularly beautiful interpretation of the rose pattern:
This book is filled with technical advice as well as the patterns themselves. Helene tackles the thorny isse of working intarsia in Garter Stitch and shows you exactly how to go about it.

Not only is this book a delight for the eyes, it is also filled with interesting and useful information.

You can see more of Helene's beautiful design work on her website here.

Posted by Ilga Leja on 02/27 at 04:29 PM
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