Elsebeth Lavold Explains the Figure Eight


Photo by Anders Rydell from Viking Knits & Ancient Ornaments

Ever since her ground-breaking book VIKING PATTERNS FOR KNITTING was published, Elsebeth Lavold has been recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on cabling. In the book, described as “an indispensable milestone in 20th century knitting literature,” she introduces her own innovation, using lifted increases to create interlace patterns instead of just to shape garments, and to bring new life to the ornamental heritage of the Vikings as adornment on modern knitwear.

With more than a decade of added experience and continued research, she took the concept a step further, studying cultures from all over the globe to find similar types of patterns. This resulted in VIKING KNITS & ANCIENT ORNAMENTS, a fascinating compilation of ornamental expressions, ancient as well as contemporary, which she again uses as a launch pad for her own unique designs.



Detail from Viking Knits & Ancient Ornaments

Elsebeth genuinely enjoys sharing her knowledge. In addition to the abundance of beautiful garments presented in the book with complete instructions, she analyzes a huge number of pattern types and displays them in both swatch and chart form, to allow you to make your own designs based on her research. Consider her discussion of the Figure Eight:

“Just as you can weave a band through a ring, you can weave it through a Figure Eight,” Lavold writes in VIKING KNITS & ANCIENT ORNAMENTS. “The Vikings, however, didn’t make much use of this pattern, leading me to believe for some time that it was my own invention. This was until I identified it on the abundantly ornamented mount from Solberga, Sweden, where it appears along with Twists, Overhand Knots, Trefoils, Elongated Trefoils, Twisted Wing Loops…to name a few.

“The Figure Eight on Band makes another appearance framing the Gospel According to John on one of the pages of the Egmont Gospels, a medieval illuminated manuscript from England (not shown). Later, in a French illuminated manuscript from the 9th century, I discovered the twin version, where two mirrored Eights are placed side by side with a pair of crossing bands twined through them.”



Detail from the French illuminated manuscript from Viking Knits & Ancient Ornaments by Elsebeth Lavold.

Learn more about the fascinating history of viking patterns and how they can inspire beautiful handknit garments in VIKING KNITS & ANCIENT ORNAMENTS, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.


Trafalgar Square Books, publisher of fine equestrian and craft books, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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