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Would you like to test knit for me?

Would you like to test knit? I have a constant stream of knitting patterns in development, and the work from idea to finished pattern is a long one – that the designer cannot walk alone!

That’s why I am always looking for test knitters who are willling to help me.

Every designer have their proces. Here, I’ll give you a summary of mine.

My designs start with an idea. It may come from a historical knitted object or an old photo. Or it may come from yarn that I dyed or otherwise got my hands on.

In any case, I will work with the idea physically. I don’t draw in the beginning, it’s too much work and doesn’t inspire me. I just knit, that’s what I like to do! I knit the design that I see in my head. And then I do calculations in a spreadsheet. During that phase of the design, I may also draw, but mostly to help with calculations.

When a model is finished, I’ll often wear it to see how it behaves on the body. Sometimes, I’ll knit 2 or 3 versions of a design by the time I finish with the calculations. Because I knit the first sample in my own size, which is L or XL, that size will be the design’s original scale. Smaller and larger sizes are calculated after the calculation of the first size. I believe it is a good thing that my size is in the middle of the range of sizes, so the smaller and larger sizes are not such a “long way” off – compared to designers who wear S or XS (the equivalten of a 9-10 year old size) so they will automatically think without so much body!

When I finish writing a pattern in English, I send it to my editor. She goes through all calculations and points out problems, errors, and misleading or incorrect language. When I get the pattern back, I translate it to Danish. My Danish proofreader then works through it to make sure no errors were introduced in translation, that all abbreviations are there, and she fixes the commas.

When a pattern reaches that point, 99% of problems will have been found, but it has still only been knitted by me. This is where the test knitters enter the equation.

As a test knitter, you will actually knit the pattern, so you will be able to catch vague descriptions or downright erroneous ones (if there are any, although I hope not).

I ask my test knitters to pay extra attention when reading and knitting, and I ask for feedback usually weekly and by the end of the test. For example, there will be questions about overall clarity and specific questions about gauge and how much yarn you used.

My tests are usually not secret, so you can share pictures on social media during and after the test. If the test is of a garment, I’ll be very interested in pictures where the garment is actually worn, since that will tell me how my design does on real bodies.

I am not able to pay my test knitters, but previous testers tell me that they enjoy being a part of the design process. I also offer a 10% discount if you buy yarn for the test in my shop Astrids butik but depending on where you live, this may not be a good deal for you. I do offer a free pdf pattern upon completing the test that you can choose among my published patterns.

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Recomposed is a project co-created by folk musician Maja Kjær Jacobsen and myself, Astrid Colding Sivertsen. Maja was searching for a knitwear designer who is interested in creating new from the old, and that happens to be the overall theme of my own project, Retrofutura. Maja and I have been working on the project Recomposed for a while, and Maja wrote about it (in Danish) a while back on her home page. I had not written anything yet, so I decided it was time for that!

Recomposed is a project that plays out in the cross section of folk music and knitting. Our overall interest is cultural transmission – past and present. Folk musicians and knitters of the past have found their inspiration locally. A musician might learn a tune from another musician, or just copy a tune they heard. Knitting patterns were passed on in the form of samplers, but also by knitters just copying a pattern they saw. Tunes and patterns migrated, often slowly, transmitted actively and passively, mutating slowly during their migration.

Now, our senses are under constant bombardment. Everything can move over long distances with extreme speed. Explaining how mass media and social media have hypercharged curtural transmission is entirely unnecessary. That is why Recomposed focuses on finding inspiration that is nearby and old, transforming that into new music and knitting.

The idea may sound a bit airy, so we decided to bring it down to earth by choosing one specific photograph as our starting point. We chose a portrait of Roland Peter Andresen from 1895. Evald Tang Kristensen was a Danish folklorist who was responsible for collecting a very large number of stories, folk tales, and songs (some with medieval or even older roots) by travelling by foot to speak to a large number of informants. Evald Tang Kristensen brougt the photographer Peter Olsen with him on one such journey in 1895, Olsen making the trip with an extremely heavy back pack filled with photographic glass plates. The result was a series of portraits of the poor informants wearing their everyday clothes. Many of them with some work, like knitting, in their hands. The portait series is quite unique in showing real people wearing their real clothes, as people would dress up in nicer (maybe borrowed or rented) clothes to have their portrait taken. Some of the informants attempted changing into something more presentable, but were prevented from doing so.

Roland Peter Andresen lived in an almshouse in the northern part of Denmark (Vendsyssel). He was born in Nibe in 1819, a son of itinerant people desribed by the Danish words “kæltringer” or “natmandsfolk” – derogatory terms that are hard to translate. “Kæltring” is still used, but now just means a person of low morals. An older meaning is a poor, itinerant person, not a gypsy but someone similar to the travellers of Ireland. “Natmand” is a waste collector or knacker. Someone who removes dead animals or feces. Back to Roland’s life. His parents were arrested shortly after his birth, and he seems to have been a ward of the state. As an adult, he worked at the estate Baggesvogn where another worker taught him a large number of folk tales. Roland married and fathered 12 children, only 5 of which survived. As an old man, he lived at the almshouse, and that was where Evald Tank Kristensen visited him and heard all his tales.

The photograph of Roland can be found in the Folklore Archives at the Royal Danish Library, but har also been published, e.g. in the book “Gamle kildevæld”. A Danish language book with a hard-to-translate title. Directly translated, it means “Old fountains” meaning fountains of old myths and songs.

But what really catches my eye is – obviously – Roland’s sweater. It is of a type now known in Denmark as an Icelandic sweater. Two-color knitted sweaters like Roland’s were used all over Scandinavia, mostly by men, for everyday wear/workwear for the poorest people. It appears that Roland’s sweater was cut open and a fabric buttonband sewn on.

Below, I’ll go into more detail with the sweater type. Another day, I’ll write about the process Maja and I used to work with the sweater’s color pattern in knitting and folk music form.

The Icelandic sweater originates in the Faroe Islands, and the name “Icelandic” may just mean “coming from an island”. Or – as suggested here – the sweaters may have been traded from the Faroe Islands to Denmark via Island. The Faroe Islands (Faroe meaning sheep, so the sheep islands) produced wool and finished knits, and those were the most important trade goods for hundreds of years.

Knitting arrived in the Faroe Islands in the 16th century, and sock production quitckly grew. Socks were the first big export article for the Faroe Islands, selling more than 100,000 pairs per year around 1770, equivalent to 98 % of total export. During the 18th century, sock production fell and sweater production increased. It is not known when color patterning of sweaters began, but it was common by the end of the 18th century. The source for this information is a book by Svanhild Strøm and Marjun Biskopstø, the Danish version is “Færøsk strikkebog”. There is a book by the same authors in English, “Faroe Island Knits”, but it doesn’t seem to be the exact same book.

Import of wool sweaters from the Faroe Islands to Denmark was controlled by a trade company run by the Danish state. In a move to counter falling quality, the trade company published instructions in 1833, defining the weight, dimensions, and patterns of the sweaters. The instruction is reproduced in Annemor Sundbø’s “Koftearven” (the English “Norway’s Knitted Heritage” is the translation of this book, I believe) and is given in a very dull and formal tone. But the main point of the instruction is this: any color pattern was permitted, as long as the floats on the back were not over more than 4 stitches. The light main color is not mentioned, but the dark pattern color is clearly defined: the yarn must be dyed with korkje, a red dye extracted from the rock lichen Ochrolechia tartarea – the darker color the better. Only in regions where no korkje grew was black patterning permitted, but not grey.

Finding historical Icelandic sweaters in Denmark is very difficult, probably because few are in existance. This is common when interested in clothing of the past: the clothing of the elite still exists. Nice clothing from middle class people may be preserved. Poor people’s ugly, worn out clothing is almost never preserved. It has been used up completely, ending its life as rags. Also, such clothing has not been seen as worth preserving.

The closest I’ve come to an older Icelandic sweater in Denmark so far is a photo in the book “Alverdens strikning” by Ann Møller Nielsen, a book about knitting around the world. You can just see the open book top right in the photo above of my swatch. The sweater belongs to the Museum at Koldinghus.

Ann Møller Nielsen describes the sweater as natural white with “a pattern of, originally, red yarn that faded with time”. The red color is not visible in the photo, but Nielsen took the photo herself, so she must have examined the sweater and seen the color. The information provided by the museum is rather brief, and even uses the photo from Nielsen’s book. But it does tell us that the sweater was found unregistered in the museum’s collection, it was cleaned in 1978, and it was used by a marine soldier. There is no information about how old the sweater may be, but it does seen to stick to the 1833 instructions with its faded red color: the dye from korkje is known to fade quickly.

Searching all Danish museum collections gives only a few hits. I can only find a few sweaters that sound like the right type, so here, here, and here, but there are no photos and they seem to be 20. century.

With so few actual sweaters left, photographs are a good source of information. Besides the photo of Roland, there are others of Danish men in Icelandic sweaters. This photo, from Bornholmernes historie by Ann Vibeke Knudsen, shows a young fisherman from the island Bornholm wearing a Icelandic sweater. The photo is taken around 1910.

The picture looks a bit staged with both hat and pipe, but the sweater looks real. The surface shows wear, and there is a sewn on neck edge made from fabric. The pattern is exactly the same as the ones on Roland’s sweater and the Kolinghus sweater.

The photos of Roland and the young fisherman from Bornholm are black & white, so we cannot quess at the pattern color. But a photo of a sweater in Sweden’s Nordiska Museum is in color, and shows red patterning.

Man’s sweater in the collection of Nordiska Museet, Sweden. Photo by Nordiska Museet CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The description does not say if the sweater was made in the area where it was used, so there is no telling if the red coloration is complicance with the 1833 instruction (which was for trade goods) or if red just seemed a normal choice to the knitter. The sweater was used in the period 1850-1870 in Värmland by someone descibed as a “finngubbe”. I searched around to find the meaning of this word, and it turns out to be an old derogatory term for a Sami man.

All the sweaters have two things in commen. One is who wore them, the other is how the sweaters were knit and finished.

The wearers of these sweaters (whether bought or made locally) were the poorest people, the lowest ranked in their society. Knackers, travellers, finngubber, sailors, and soldiers. Annemor Sundbø shows a picture in her book of a number of inmates of al prison, all wearing “Icelandic” sweaters. At the time the above mentioned sweaters were in use – 1910 and earlier – richer or higher ranking (or even middle class) people did not wear knitwear visibly. They may have used knitted underwear or home wear but never anything knitted in public. The better off wore woven clothing.

The sweaters have many similarities. All have the exact same pattern. The fabric of all the sweaters looks well made and smooth, but the edges are another story. The sweaters from Koldinghus and Nordiska Museet have knitted edges at the wrists and lower edge, but unfinished neck openings. The young fisherman from Bornholm and Roland Andresen are wearing sweaters with sewn on fabric edges, and Roland’s sweater seems to have a buttonband, also sewn on.

The Icelandic sweater never really went away. I have found it in school photos from the 1940’s and 50’s, newspaper photos from the 1970’s, and it is still popular now. I am working on my version of this classic, and I will write about that in my next post.

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Astrids butik – Astrid’s shop

It’s finally ready! My new web page, Astrids butik.

Until today, I’ve run a web shop here on Retrofutura. But, there is also one on my other page, Midgaards Have, and it is really not practical. Especially since there was no way to order from both shops and pay just one freight.

So I’ve been working on the solution, and Astrids butik is finally ready now. Astrids butik is the place to order yarns and patterns previously available here at Retrofutura, and in addition all the products from Midgaards Have: patterns, yarns for dyeing, natural dyes, and seeds. And more to come.

This also means that I have closed the shop on this page. Thanks for now, and see you at Astrids butik.

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German Short Rows

Short rows are the perfect technique for shaping knitting, and there are many different ways to knit short rows. Many of them are a bit fiddly, and some will even make a small hole in the knitted fabric where the turn is. My favorite technique is German short rows because they are easy to work and the result is a nice, almost invisible, turn.

Here, I’ll show how to work German short rows in stockinette. The project I’m working on is a striped version of my own Cook a wolf sweater pattern that I’m currently writing. I use short rows to shape the shoulder of this sweater, to give it a small slope that makes the sweater fit better.

After knitting on the right side

Here, I am showing what to do after finishing the knit stitches on the right side. Having reached the number of stitches the pattern states, turn the work so the wrong side is facing you.

Now, slip the first stitch as if to purl with the yarn in front of the work. Then, pull the yarn over the needle, pulling the two legs of the stitch long. After that, purl the stitches on the needle:

After purling on the wrong side

You basically do the same when you finish purling the required number of stitches on the wrong side. Turn the work so the right side is facing, slip the first stitch as if to purl with the yarn in front of the work, then pull the yarn over the needle, pulling the two legs of the stitch long. After that, knit the stitches on the needle:

In both cases, there is now a pulled-over stitch on the needle. This stitch looks doubled, but it is one stitch and should be worked as one.

Knit the pulled-over stitch on the right side

When you reach a pulled-over stitch on the right side, it looks like this. In this video, I knit two ordinary stitches, then the pulled over stitch, and then two ordinary stitches:

And similarly when you purl the pulled-over stitch on the wrong side. In this video, I purl two ordinary stitches, then the pulled-over stitch, then two ordinary stitches:

And this is what the shoulder looks like after being closed using a 3-needle bind off – you can just see that the stripes are narrower in one end, and that’s all it takes to improve the shaping of a sweater shoulder:

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A Decorative Rib

I am writing a pattern for a simple sweater with a simple shape and a gauge of 18 sts / 10 cm (4 inches). I’ll publish it as Cook a Wolf later.

I usually knit several versions when writing a pattern, and one of the versions of this sweater has a decorative rib edge that combines a normal rib with a zig-zag rib from Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Walker calls this rib “rick rack ribbing”.

Here is the bottom edge of my sweater with the decorative rib. When I use normal rib, I usually use 10% fewer stitches for the rib than for the body. With this decorative rib, I use the same number, as the rick rack stitches are constantly crossing over, and that draws in the edge.

The rick rack stitches are actually a mini-cable, so the zigzagging look comes from the fact that the stitches are crossed. There are only two rounds, but they are difficult to explain in words, so I’ve made videos showing these stitches. They are shown for working in the round. The videos only show the special stitches, in the picture above, they are surrounded by purl, knit, purl.

Round 1: knit the second stitch through the back loop, then knit the first stitch:

Round 2: knit the second stitch through the front, then knit the first stitch:

It can be a bit difficult to get the needle through the front of the second stitch. I hold the stitches from the back, that makes it easier.

Repeat the two rounds.

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Danish Tie Shawls

The Textile Museum in Herning, Denmark, owns a collection of hand knitted objects from the area around Herning in Jutland, Central Denmark. The collection contains shawls, underwear, socks, and footless socks. I work at the Textile Museum, and I’m currently giving a series of workshops centered around the knitted objects. A good group of about 10 knitters attend, and together we analyze the construction of the objects and try to recreate them, often in several rounds of knitting and discussion.

The first series of workshops was about shawls. The most well know shawl in the collection is doubtless the shawl that Danish knitwear designer Åse Lund Jensen examined and published a pattern for. She was very interested in historical knitting, and this very pattern pointed me in the same direction. So seeing the original shawl was very exciting. It is knitted from several green yarns with a black lace edge:

A bit hard to see, but the neck area is knitted using a thinner yarn. This is also the case with several other shawls in the collection, and I think it must be to make the shawl fit better:

The objects’s registration is not very informative. All it says is this: “Grey, knitted, with black edge. Typical, used in the 1880-1890’s and before and after. Practical piece. Herning parish, Hammerum shire. Gift from Mrs Jensen, Vestergade 85, Herning. 29/9-1931”. That’s all (and I really think it’s green, not grey. But I like the description “practical piece”).

Åse Lund Jensen died in 1977, and knitwear designer Marianne Isager took over her company and back catalogue of patterns. That is the reason that this and many other Lund Jensen patterns have lived on after her death. Some years ago, the shawl pattern became very popular in a striped but otherwise identical version known as “Chamomile”. A very nice example of knitting heritage being passed on, I think.

This brown tie shawl also caught my eye, and made me fall in love immediately! It has been in the museum’s collection since 2004:

The objects’s registration tells us the following about the brown shawl: “Tie shawl. Material: Brown wool. The tie shawl is shaped. Has a lace edge. Ties in the tip of the triangle. Several repairs. Donor inherited it from her grandmother Karen Marie Møller, b. 1841, d. 1921, married to blacksmith Jens Peter Kristensen (later took the name Møller) b. 1840, d. 1925”.

Here’s a better photo of the edge:

I have knitted quite a few swatches and several whole shawls based on the brown tie shawl. First a light blue version, which was on display along with the original in a special exhibition at the Textile Museum. I also made a brown version, using naturally dyed wool from my other page, Midgaards Have.

Finally I knitted the shawl in Rauma Finull, a yarn very well suited as it drapes well at this gauge, but also holds the shape so the lace tips can be blocked. Blocking shawls is a Shetland technique, and as far as I know the technique was not used for Danish tie shawls. They were knitted at a very dense gauge to use as outerwear, not for decoration.

My version of the shawl is modern. I worked it at a much looser gauge, so this will not work as outerwear in rough weather. But it can be an indoor “practical piece”, keeping the body warm and arms free for working around the house. It can also be decorative, especially if worked without ties. The construction is also modern. The historical shawls were worked from the outside, beginning with a large stitch count and decreasing on both sides of the work using only the knit 2 together decrease. The edge was worked separately and sewn on. My shawl is worked from the neck out and the edge is knitted on – I just find that easier! Here is the shawl worked in grey Finull:

Astrids butik is my shop, and the place to find all yarns and patterns connected to the project Retrofutura. It is also the place to find all products connected to the project Midgaards Have – natural dyes, yarn for dyeing, seeds. And a growing selection of other yummy yarns and knitting design

Buy the pattern:

Or buy as knitting kit:

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Provisional Cast On

Provisional cast on is one of my favorite knitting techniques. It is a cast on that you remove later, freeing live stitches that you can knit. I sometimes make a provisional cast on in the middle of a stockinette sweater if I haven’t decided how long it will be. Or if I’m not sure I have enough yarn. A provisional cast on is sometimes a good idea instead of an edge that stays when knitting sweaters both top-down and bottom-up. By finishing all edges with bind offs, I find that it is easier to make edges that fall perfectly. And bind offs on all edges also make them identical.

There are several methods for casting on provisionally, so I am going to show the one I think is the easiest. When using this method, you crochet the provisional stitches around the knitting needle. Below, I show the method both for left-handed and righ-thanded people. I am left-handed, so I know how impossible it is to study photos to learn something new while simultaneously having to mirror the photos in your head!! I made the right-handed photos by mirroring the images.

Use another type of yarn than the one that will be used for knitting. A smooth cotton yarn is perfect. Use a crochet hook with about the same size as your knitting needle. To begin, make a standard slip knot:

Put the knitting needle below the crochet hook, making the yarn end hanging over the needle:

Carry the yarn up the back of the needle and over the hook:

Pull the yarn through the loop that was already sitting on the hook – there is now one stitch on the needle:

Carry on in the same way – for each stitch, the yarn goes over the front of the needle, up its back, over the hook, and pull through the loop:

Cut the yarn when enough stitches are cast on. From now on, things look the same for left- and right-handed people. The cut end is on the right side:

Tie the working yarn to the right side. I just tie an ordinary knot, then knit the provisional stitches:

Later you’ll come back and remove the white yarn. Untie the knot and put the live stitches on to a needle as the provisional stitches are unraveled. In this case, my purple yarn end is rather short, it is more practical to leave a slightly longer end in the beginning. That way, the end can be used to knit the first few stitches before adding more yarn.

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Knitted Cast On

The knitted cast on is a method to cast on stitches to the right of existing stitches or a slip knot. In Danish, one of the names for this cast on is a “school cast on”, indicating that this was the cast on girls used to learn in school. I have a housewife’s handbook from 1951 called “Femina”. That book calls the knitted cast on “knitting up new stitches”, a fine description. Femina uses the knitted cast on when constructing a buttonhole, but it is also a good cast on for modular knitting.

Here, I am showing the knitted cast on to the right of existing stitches. The work is placed as if one was about to work across:

First, knit one stitch as usual:

The left needle is inserted into the stitch from the back. This movement can also be thought of as putting the stitch back on the left needle through the back loop:

The right needle lets go, and one stitch has now been cast on:

To cast on more stitches, just repeat the steps above. Each time, work in the right stitch on the needle.

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Splicing Yarn

This technique for changing yarn makes life much easier, especially when knitting a thicker yarn where sewn-in ends can be bulky and easily seen.

I am showing how to splice using href=””>Rauma Vams, a thick 2-ply pure wool yarn. It felts really well. Splicing can only be used with pure wool yarns that felt well. It doesn’t work on superwash or fiber blends.

Here are the two ends that I would like to join. The two plies are easily visible:

Before splicing, I remove one ply of each end, leaving a 1-ply overhang of 2-3 cm. This means the splice will be the same thickness as the rest of the yarn, and completely invisible after knitting:

Then, I hold the yarn ends on my palm:

At this point, moisten the overlapping ends. You can dip your fingers in water, or use a bit of spit. The technique is also known as spit splicing, and some will even claim that enzymes in spit help splice the wool. This doesn’t make much sense, as spit doesn’t contain any enzymes that work on proteins as far as I remember! But spit is good because the lazy knitter in the comfy chair doesn’t have to get up.

When the yarn ends are moist, put the other hand on top and roll them using a movement perpendicular to the yarn. It’s fine if it feels warm between the palms, as the combination of moisture and temperature is what makes felting happen! The result:

The fibers are felted together, and the the yarn ends have been spliced. I usually give the join a little tug to see if it’s strong enough. If not, felt it some more.

Splicing is a very useful technique when knitting real wool. I imagine that the technique must be very old, older than knitting, probably. Nalbinding, which was the technique used before knitting, is hard to do without splicing, as new ends of yarn are constantly added. And wool yarns of the past would most probably have felted well. Splicing ends would also be an easy idea to come to mind for someone who spun all their own yarn, and thought of wool fibres as a material to be worked as you needed.

See more Rauma Vams?

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2021 is suddenly over. Another lockdown year gone, but also a busy and good year. For me the year where my pattern, Madrigal, was published in Pom Pom Quarterly 39.

Image from Pom Pom Publishing, Model and art director Lydia Morrow, photography Theodora van Duin, hair and makeup Kala Williams.

The pattern has different levels of repetition.

The most obvious is the color change when knitting a round, alternating stitches of two colors.

But the four colors are also repeated in the same sequence throughout the pattern, and at the same time, dominance is shifted for every 9 rounds.

Together, the multiple repetitions form a whole where no one color dominates over the others. Thus the name Madrigal, which is a type of choral music where voices weave in and out of each other, creating a whole.

Pom Pom’s color choice feels very modern, and it was interesting for me to knit the sample in a color combination so far from what I would have chosen myself! Here is the Pom Pom color combination along with 3 combinations that I chose:

Madrigal in 4 different color combinations.

My eye wants the Madrigal pattern in clear color combinations with a lot of contrast, which honestly belong in the 90’s, the decade where knitting almost died! The feel of the different combinations is truly different, but in the end, the Madrigal design works well in so many 4-color combinations.

All that’s required is 4 colors with good contrast, and that can be achieved by choosing one light, one dark, and two in-between colors. Or, work the pattern in more than 4 colors, without repeating a color sequence.

The pattern itself is an older story. I took it from mittens knitted by a friend of our family, who is in her mid-80’s and has been making mittens in this style for many years.

Here’s two mittens our friend made for my children. The small one looks centuries old, but this is what anything my son has worn for a bit looks like. Sand drizzles out of the small mitten if you shake it gently.

My children’s mittens.

Small repeat patterns on mittens are a part of Danish knitting tradition that has not been given much attention. I wrote an article about small pattern repeat mittens in the Danish knitting magazine <a href=””>Gavstrik 2021, nr. 1</a>. Here, I’ll just give a couple of examples. One is the front cover of the classic book by Vibeke Lind, Knitting in the Nordic Tradition (1981) where small repeat patterns are seen on the mitten on the top right and the black and white hat  at the bottom right.

The front cover of the Danish edition of “Knitting in the Nordic Tradition” by Vibeke Lind.

The Textile Museum in Herning, central Denmark, has a whole collection of small pattern repeat mittens. These mittens were the subject of a workshop series i held last year. Herning was at the center of commercial hand knitting of the 19th century.

Below are a pair of black and green mittens from Aulum, a small town in the same region of Denmark as Herning. The mittens are made by Kirstine Nyholm, who was born in the 1860’s. In 1886, she married Johannes Nyholm, and they lived in a house with a small field. This comes from the museum registration of the mittens, and the word it uses for their home tells us that they were poor people. The registration also says that Kristine Nyholm always made the mittens this way, and that she gave them to “people and their children”. The mittens are from the late 19th or early 20th century and are a lovely example of small pattern repeats. I am going to knit a copy at some point!

Mittens from Aulum, knitted by Kristine Nyholm for “people and their children”.

Lise Warburg gives a theory about small pattern repeats in her book “The Knitting Madonna” (I don’t know if there is an English translation of this book). She sees it as a relict of an older knitting tradition, twined knitting. Warburhg says that the small repeats come natural in twined knitting.

Older knitting traditions, ones that pre-date the actual knitted artefacts that have been preserved, are difficult to addresss. But it is remarkable that of all the mittens collected in the area around Herning, none have more than two stitches of one color before the other color is used. Is it only in this area, or did it cover a larger area? Nobody has made that study, yet.

But back to Madrigal. I love having mitten and hat sets, and I mostly grab for the matching sets on my way out the door, instead of using all those hats and mittens that don’t match anything. So I’ve designed a hat to go with the mittens. The small pattern repeat also works very well for a hat. Here is the Madrigal Hat in blue-yellow:

Madrigal Hat in blue and yellow. Model Eva Marie Reng-Andersen, photography Maja Theodoraki.

And here is the set in red-orange

Madrigal Hat and Mittens, red-orange color combination. Model Karin Tuxen, photography Maja Theodoraki.

The Madrigal Set is made with Rauma Finull, with a gauge of 28 sts to 10 cm (4 inches) in stranded knitting. If you have yarn – Finull or another wool that gives the right gauge – and would just like to buy the hat pattern, you will find it here. The mitten pattern can be found in Pom Pom 39, which you’ll find here (update: copyright has reverted to me, and you can now find the mitten pattern here). And kits with yarn in the different color combinations can be found here: