Norwegian Not Knitting

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, my grandmother regularly tutored me in an array of hand arts. Sometimes she used kits; other times we used a pattern in her head or a sketch out of a book. She was a meticulous needlewoman and expected the same from me – but how meticulous she expected me to be depended on my age.

Here is the first “big” project my grandmother had me do – in basic cross-stitch. It’s been sitting in a closet waiting for me to take it out of the frame and have it cleaned (then remounted), so please forgive the spots. I hung on a door hook to snap this picture. Here’s the original pattern.

I stitched this probably when I was about 10 or 12. I remember my mother was mad at me because in cross-stitch the top threads are supposed to cross from right to left, bottom to top, but I was not doing that consistently. I felt very embarrassed until my grandmother stepped in and not only praised my work but immediately took it out for framing. (Way to dry my tears!)

This is my second “big” project – a klokkestreng (bellpull), that I stitched in diamond stitch over 40 years ago. Here is the original pattern. As you will notice, Norwegian patterns (at least the old ones) aren’t exactly superfluous with instructions. 🙂 I made this when I was about 13 years old. I was very proud when I finished it, under my grandmother’s tutelage, of course – this time with all the stitches crossing in the right direction. 🙂 It hangs near our front door.

De Kloke Jomfruer (The Wise Maidens): I vaguely remembered my grandmother explaining a biblical reference of five wise virgins who remembered to put oil in their lamps on their way to meet a bridegroom. (It’s Matthew 25:1 – thank you Google.) I asked my grandmother why they were considered wise when all they did was remember to put oil in their lamps, but I don’t remember her answer. In any event, I used this pattern to make a wall hanging one summer in Norway when my daughter was a little girl, and it now hangs in her dining room. (I popped by today to take a picture of it, but she has taken everything off the walls in preparation for painting. So, alas, no picture.)

On the right is a picture of a pillow I stitched many years ago. It is the perfect size to tuck behind my or Thor’s back on this tall rocker. (The rocker is a handmade bent wood rocker out of hickory that I bought from an Amish craftsman in upstate New York many years ago.) Here is the pattern for Pute i Klostersøm.

I have many other old handarbeider (handwork) patterns, including a slim volume of Mønster til Prydsøm (embroidery patterns) that’s over 50 years old. Flipping through the pages I recognized several of the projects that my grandmother and I made into pillow covers and doilies … that was a walk down memory lane. I don’t know if anyone’s interested in it, but if so just let me know. I am happy to scan it in and post it.


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Norwegian Knitting, Norwegian Upbringing in U.S., Other Fiber Arts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Norwegian Not Knitting

  1. Yes, it is SO easy to get frustrated when learning a new craft. And I seem to have stepped into her shoes: I am passing down fiber arts & crafts to my grandchildren. My grandmother was indeed a blessing for me. My name (Karen) was her name, and I am honored to carry it!


  2. It is challenging … especially when we not only move out of cities but out of countries!


  3. What a wonderful legacy! I wish we were better record keepers in my family.


  4. Bindhurani says:

    I was not a good crafter when I was young. I wanted to learn cross stitch and hand embroidery. But got frustrated because I was not able to do a good job like my mom. I leanred crochet by myelf. Even though, not that great in it. I love it. You are blessed to have a grandmother like tat. I can understand how you adore your grandma from your blog.


  5. I think her favorite was hardanger and another stitch for which I do not know the name. One of these posts I’ll post some scans of both her work and the pictures she worked from!


  6. I think my mom was an okay knitter … she just hated it! Yes, I agree: making fun of people when they are trying to master a craft/art is thoroughly insensitive!


  7. ethgran says:

    Your grandmother was a wise woman. Stepping in and praising your first effort helped you want to do more. Thanks for sharing – I love doing handwork and was encouraged whenever I attempted to do some. What is funny is that my mother wouldn’t teach me to knit because she was a horrible knitter. She knit socks for soldiers during WWI and I bet someone made fun of her efforts. My mother-in-law taught me to knit.


  8. Curls & Q says:

    How fabulous! I have to admit that I have a a klokkestreng from about 40 years ago that I never finished. I’m really bad about finishing! My grandma’s favorite stitch was bargello, did your grandma have one?


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