I Hate Winter

Did I ever mention that?  I'm not sure that I did.  Winter here is quite all right up until New Year's day. Then it gets really depressing.  Even if it starts to get lighter, the weather is miserable and I think it's worse with the light.   In the deep darkness of winter it makes sense to crawl into bed, light some candles and just snuggle and then put up Christmas decorations and celebrate.  But you kind of expect the lighter evenings to turn into warmer days.  But... No!  It's not happening.  Not in March. Winter here doesn't leave until mid to late May or like last summer, June.  We had frost almost into the middle of June and after that it just rained.

The old Icelandic calendar only had two seasons, Winter and Summer.  It makes sense in this climate since there really isn't any spring or fall.  There is just that small window of opportunity when growth bursts forward and desperately tries to set seed.   It hardly deserves the name summer.

The best way to ignore the miserable weather is to draw the curtains, light a few candles and knit.  I have been working on this triangular lace shawl.  It's a fairly well known traditional pattern, called Þórdís, and is available for free on Knitting Daily.  I had originally intended to make a shawl called Halldóra, from a wonderful book, Icelandic Handknits but after frogging that from the 19th row about 6 times, I gave that up.  The pattern just didn't seem to stick in my mind.  I was getting so frustrated that my daughter suggested this other one and I like it even better than the first one.  Both are very much traditional Icelandic shawls.

In the olden days all women used shawls instead of sweaters.  They were most commonly triangular and quite big.  Not always as delicate as the one I am making, the daywear would have been quite plain and the women would wrap them around themselves and tie the ends at the back.  Sunday best, would have been spun from the silky tog, or the soft þel into very delicate creations.  The finest of which one could draw through a finger ring.  Or so the stories tell.  I saw a few of them hanging in a museum last summer and they looked so etherial.  I especially loved the green colour and knew I wanted to dye the yarn myself.  And I knew that I wanted light and delicate colours for my shawl, even if I have seen some really beautiful ones in the natural sheep colours, both greys and browns.

I haven't knitted much lace patterns before and I have to say that it does make sense to use lifelines and A LOT of stitch markers.  I didn't at first and that resulted in some frogging.  So I have learned my lesson.  The yarn I used is Love Story, a lovely single spun Icelandic wool made by a lovely french woman who now lives in Iceland. It is a combination of the þel and tog and is such a lovely, lovely soft and delicate yarn that it is a plesure to touch it.  Helene, a former lawyer, is a textile designer and has done great things with the Icelandic wool.  She has a blog, The Icelandic knitter and a webstore.  I love everything she does.

I did dye the yarn myself and I have to admit that I am absolutely in love with the colours.  I used cochineal for the pink, woad for the blue and green (with weld) and then Parmelia saxatilis for the yellows.  That yarn has the wonderful smell which I love.  That is the main reason  used that colour.  Just to get a small whiff that will last as long as the garment.  I dyed this yarn at the same time I dyed the silk for my embroidery.  I had plenty of dye left over from those tiny amounts so it made sense to do that at the same time.  I was really pleased with the outcome.  The colours just make me smile and give me the promise of a spring that will surely be here soon.


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