Let’s Hear It for the Boys of Knitting

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These days, the first thing a lot of non-knitters picture when they hear the word “knitting” is someone’s kindly grandmother in a rocking chair, needles clicking away. But that wasn’t always the case! When knitting first arrived in and spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, it fell under the jurisdiction of established guilds for handwork, where professionals—men—were required to study the craft for years to progress from journeyman to master. (Ordinary women learning to knit for themselves and their families, probably thanks in part to leakage of industry secrets, seems to have been something of a labor revolution.) Even after knitting spread all the way to Scandinavia and the Baltic, it was still common for men to engage in all kinds of fibercrafts; shepherds could use long quiet hours in the fields productively, and walking from place to place was time that could be spent knitting!

Today, knitting’s popularity among just about everybody is on the rise, and men who knit are everywhere, including TSB books! Take Arne & Carlos, the fan-favorite Scandinavian knitting superstars. Both grew up with knitting and crochet all around them and picked up handcrafts readily. As fashion designers, they’d been running their own label for years before they started to notice that their knit designs had the most flair, got the best response—and were the most fun for them, too.

“We discovered what we really wanted to do was right in front of our noses the whole time,” they say, and they promptly turned knit design into a career of 15 years and counting, with inspiration drawn from everything from wildlife in their own backyard to vintage Mexican embroidery, and over half a dozen books to their names.

Martin Storey was taught to knit when he was young, inspired by a teacher who saw nothing unusual in passing along a love of handcrafts to girls and boys alike—and is now one of the best-known knit designers in the world. It took years, and dedicated encouragement from a friend who was an art student, for him to pursue his love of knitting and turn it into a lifelong career. His work for influential yarn and knitwear design companies like Artwork and Rowan has led to multiple stunning pattern collections, and 10 books and counting, showcasing his love for cables, contrasts, and dynamic colorwork. Martin is a master at his craft and knows what knitters want—together with a fantastic eye for texture and color, this guarantees his garments are a joy to look at, to knit and, most importantly, to wear.

Ivar Asplund learned the basics from his grandmother when he was just five years old and found himself smitten right away. He loved to look at the projects she was working on, asking her to explain how she’d made them—and the answers were never as complicated as he feared. His grandmother taught him not only how to knit, how to work cables, and how to construct sweaters, but also to be willing to try new things and take risks: you’ll always learn something in the attempt, even if the results aren’t perfect the first time around! This has led him to favor deft, complex colorwork patterns, and stunning combinations of intertwined cables. Ivar’s grandmother passed away when he was 17, “but she continues to be with me in all my projects,” he says, “because handwork was how we talked to each other.” His first book to be made available in English, CABLE KNITS FROM NORDIC LANDS, is dedicated to her memory.

No matter how knitting might have come into your life, it’s worth inviting it to stay: knitting is enjoyable, relaxing, and productive, and all you need to get started is one pair of needles and a skein of yarn (even if you end up with … a little more than that, before you’re done!). It’s been both men’s industry and women’s work, and at the end of the day its appeal is undeniably universal.

Who do you know who might love to learn to knit—or might need encouragement to give it another try?

Find books by these authors and many others at the TSB online bookstore. CLICK HERE to explore our craft books now.

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

Spotlight On: Hen Knitting

Spotlight On: Hen Knitting

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Photo by Alexas Fotos/Pexels

“Hen knitting” doesn’t have anything to do with chickens—unless you want it to, that is! The term was coined by Danish knitter and author Kirsten Hofstätter in the late 1960s, as a way to describe knitting that wasn’t following strict pattern instructions: knitting that was bright and colorful, that used up leftover yarn instead of being made with purchased kits, and that gave the knitter freedom to choose pattern bands and motifs and create a design all their own. Danish knitters embraced the concept, and hen knitting became a wildly popular and well-loved form of self-expression. It’s fun, stylish, and a perfect way to make a beautiful, wearable statement about who you are and what you love.

How do you do it? 

Pick a handful of motifs to repeat around in pattern bands, one at a time, and before you know it you’ve got a personalized garment focused around any theme you want. Maybe an animal theme, for the kid who can’t get enough of four-legged friends from the barnyard—or safari! Or perhaps a lovely flower sweater in full bloom, for a gardener? Whatever you can imagine, you can do it with hen knitting; anything and everything that interests you can be combined to form a pattern that’s the perfect fit in every way.

And it doesn’t stop at patterns—or at sweaters, for that matter. Knit in abstract designs, symbols, or even words or a name. Work the ultimate personalized pair of socks or mittens, a skirt, a cowl, or a pillow or two (and you can visit our website to try out a free pillow pattern with its own set of reusable, rearrangeable motifs—CLICK HERE). Anything you can fit a repeating pattern band around can be hen-knit; all it takes is a few designs you like and some yarn in your favorite colors.

Hen knitting can even tell a story, or express the treasured personal memories you hold dear. One of the authors of KNIT YOURSELF IN, Linn Bryhn Jacobsen, designed a hen-knit sweater for her father, who comes from Stokmarknes—very far in the north of Norway. She decided she wanted to capture the beauty and the spirit of his native landscape: the clarity and intensity of the Arctic sunset, the wildlife, the high gray mountains and grassy hills, the seaside cliffs teeming with birds and the whales often spotted in the wild along the coast …

Whether your style is fun or funky, sweet and colorful or bright and adventuresome, the perfect hen knitting pattern is waiting for you to invent it. There’s no better way to make your knitting inimitably, incomparably, uniquely you.

CLICK HERE to find out more about our book about hen knitting, KNIT YOURSELF IN.

Thank you for supporting small businesses!

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

Handmade Stay-Home Style for Your Pets

LoveMeKnitforMe-trafalgarbooksEven under less-than-ideal circumstances, spending some extra time at home can be a wonderful opportunity to develop closer connections, look after each other, and find comfort together. And that doesn’t just apply to the human members of the household! Our four-legged best friends make tough times more bearable—and it’s a pleasure to be able to give them a gift every now and then in return.

Celebrated Scandinavian knitting superstars Arne Nerjordet and Carlos Zachrison have given their dog Freja cameos in several of their books since she was a puppy, and they love making things for her. Their latest release ARNE & CARLOS FAVORITE DESIGNS collects the “best of the best”: 70 of their favorite techniques and patterns, drawn together from 15 years and 7 books’ worth of creative inspiration, plus 15 all-new projects, to create a uniquely beautiful sourcebook that has something for everyone …

… including Freja! The dog sweater pattern Arne and Carlos developed for Freja, featuring a ribbed turtleneck and classic Norwegian “crosses” and “rings,” plus rounds of charming crosshatched hearts, is presented in two sizes: one to fit the 13-pound Freja, and a larger version designed to fit her mother. (CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR FREE PATTERN, plus get Arne and Carlos’s tips for checking the sizing against your dog, and adjusting yarn weight to suit dogs who are even larger.)

And of course there’s no better book for dog lovers who knit than DOGS ON SWEATERS, from expert knitters and longtime dog enthusiasts Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. This book includes patterns for sweaters with dogs from 18 popular breeds, including Labradors, Beagles, Dalmatians, Pugs, Golden Retrievers, and more, for children and adults—plus instructions for customizing the “nearest fit” to depict your favorite rare breed or lovable mutt instead.

But a book about dogs on sweaters wouldn’t be complete without some dogs in sweaters! And Muir and Osborne took the time to work up a lovely fitted dog coat in five sizes, from Chihuahua to German Shepherd (so to speak)—which is also available for FREE from TSB! (CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR FREE PATTERN.)

Are you a cat person or a dog person—and is your beloved pet the type to put up with a snuggly coat or cowl, or not? Post your answer and tag us on Facebook (#TSBcrafts) or on Instagram (@trafalgarsquarecraftbooks), and you’ll be entered to win a FREE copy of your choice of either of these two titles. (As long as you’re within the US and over 18, that is.)

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

Here Comes the Sun: Things Look Up with Lace Knitting

Here Comes the Sun: Things Look Up with Lace Knitting

LaceKnitting-RAW Bokmerke 1-trafalgarbooksThese days it really helps that the days are getting longer, sunnier, and warmer, and the world around us is slowly waking up. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of turning your face into the sun after a long chilly winter—this one especially. This spring in particular many of us find ourselves at loose ends, having to make the best of unexpectedly empty schedules and keep ourselves occupied with something—anything—more productive, fulfilling, and engaging than checking the news every ten minutes …

Cooking, baking, sewing, knitting—these are the kinds of activities that have appeal when we’re stuck at home and tired of technology. And openwork knitting is a wonderful way to welcome the spring. Lace stitches come in infinite flavors, including happy seasonal patterns like buds, flowers, and leaves. Light, silky yarns and breezy lace garments are as comfortable to work as they will be to wear, and filled with all the promise of a fresh start and a new day…something we all look forward to this year.

LaceKnitting-RAW Blaa genser 2-trafalgarbooksLACE KNITTING by Denise Samson (the knit designer who also wrote the popular PONCHOS TO KNIT and THE CABLE KNITTER’S GUIDE) is the resource recommended by TSB Craft Editor Kim Cook for those looking to explore openwork techniques with their knitting needles. Featuring a fascinating introduction to the history of lace knitting and the fundamentals of choosing tools and materials, readers are then treated to a beautifully rich “stitch dictionary”: 40 individual lace patterns, from the deceptively simple to the beautifully intricate, presented with clear, easy-to-read charts, and swatches photographed in full color and high quality, so you can see exactly how each stitch represented on the chart looks when it’s worked for real. In addition, there are 30 designs for garments, accessories, and furnishings.

We’d love to hear how you are being creative these days and the projects you’re embarking on this spring! Stay in touch, and stay well.

LACE KNITTING is 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.

Crafting Journey: The Bedspread That Crossed the Country

Crafting Journey: The Bedspread That Crossed the Country

In our new series of stories that tell us the personal journeys we experience when creating with our hands, TSB Managing Director Martha Cook shares the history behind the handmade lace bedspread that was knit on a road trip in the early 1960s. 

My father was a piano technician who for years was both tuner and travel companion to pianist Rudolf Serkin in the 1950s and 1960s.

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My father Oscar Ekberg (left) and Rudolf Serkin.

How does this have anything remotely to do with knitting you ask? In 1962, my mother, newly married, set off with my father across the United States transporting Serkin’s Steinway grand piano for a national concert tour. It would be their working honeymoon.

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My parents, Oscar and Ruth, on their wedding day.

The trip began in Brattleboro, Vermont, on November 25. My mom knew she would spend many hours in the box truck traveling state to state and at concert venues. She wanted to have a project that would occupy the long hours of sitting. As an avid knitter, she chose an ambitious pattern that would last the whole trip: a lace-knitted bedspread. Armed with the pattern, needles, and loads of off-white cotton yarn—and the piano, of course—off they went.

The finished double-bed-sized spread would be comprised of dozens of 10-inch squares.

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One of the finished squares.

This seemed practical to Mom since she would knit them one-by-one and not be encumbered by a huge cotton “blanket” as the states passed by.

From Vermont, to New York City, and on to Chicago, they drove, and Mom knitted. Besides being Dad’s travel companion, she was also his assistant for which she was paid $10.00/day. She took care of the accommodation plans and the bookkeeping. I’m lucky to have the little three-ring notebook in which she recorded their daily expenses.

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Their daily travel expenses in 1962.

Here are a couple days’ records once they were traveling along the coast of California:

The Flamingo Motel in Berkeley, one night @ $9.00
Breakfast, $1.39
Lunch $1.90
Dinner $1.92

Flamingo Motel

Now closed, this vintage photo of the Flamingo Motel from about the same time period, judging by the cars in the lot.

 A few days later in Santa Barbara, where things were a bit more “expensive”…
 
The El Prado Motor Inn, one night @ $12.00
Breakfast, $2.81
Lunch, $2.50
Coffee, 42₵
Dinner, $4.31!

 

El Prado

Long gone, the chic and oh-so-modern El Prado Motor Inn.

By the time Mom and Dad were traveling down the California coast, there were many finished knitted squares for the bedspread. The panel truck that carried them across the country was left in Los Angeles, where my dad’s brother and his wife flew from New England to drive it back to the East Coast. My parents and the bag full of knitted squares flew to Hartford, Connecticut, and then made their way back to Brattleboro, Vermont.
 
Once home, my grandmother helped Mom assemble the bedspread. It was made for the cannonball double bed that I have in my home today.

 

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I do not have photos of my mom knitting during the trip, but here she is at 96 holding the spread and telling me about the journey that happened over 50 years ago.

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My mother, Ruth, holding the hand knit bedspread she made in the early sixties.

I’m sorry that I do not have the pattern my mother used on her journey. When I saw the bedspread featured in our newly published book LACE KNITTING by Denise Samson, I was struck by the similarities.

 

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The bedspread pattern from the book LACE KNITTING by Denise Samson.

If you are interested in this pattern, or in other openwork patterns, LACE KNITTING is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

And do YOU have a crafting journey to share? We’d love to feature your story on our blog! Contact rdidier@trafalgarbooks.com.

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

If You Want to Knit That Chris Evans “Knives Out” Sweater, Here’s a Free Pattern

If You Want to Knit That Chris Evans “Knives Out” Sweater, Here’s a Free Pattern

Whether it’s Lenny Kravitz in a fabulously massive scarf

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Pacific Coast News/Buzzfeed

 

or Katie Holmes in a very un-grandpa cardigan

Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise are Pictured Hailing a Taxi in New York City.

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we’re always excited when trendsetters bring knitwear to the fashion foreground. Our newest viral yarny passion involves the “Chris Evans sweater” or “Knives Out Sweater,” a phenomenon which The New Yorker deemed of social relevance in a piece this week by Rachel Syme. 

If you’re in the hunt for the “eggshell Aran” then you’re in luck, because we’re going to give you a fabulous pattern to knit one all your own FOR FREE. TSB author Martin Storey included a Classic Aran Sweater in just the right color of Rowan tweed yarn in his book EASY CABLE & ARAN KNITS.

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From EASY CABLE & ARAN KNITS by Martin Storey

And yes, you can have it. Viral sensation, all yours. Call us suckers for the season of giving. Go ahead and click the link below to download the pattern.

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Aran sweater Chris Evans sweater Knives Out Sweater

If one pattern isn’t enough to feed your yarn-loving soul, Martin Storey’s EASY CABLE & ARAN KNITS is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to see our newest titles, including the hot new release SELBU MITTENS.

Happy Holidays!

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

 

Two Words: SELBU MITTENS

Two Words: SELBU MITTENS

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The reaction has been astounding—who knew that a book about the traditional mitten patterns heralding from the municipality of eight villages and approximately 4,100 people would throw the knitting world into a tailspin? If you haven’t yet heard about this  completely unique book (and number one new kitting release), here’s the deal on SELBU MITTENS by Anne Bårdsgård:

The ultimate compendium for any Norwegian mitten enthusiast, this gorgeous and inspiring resource was produced in conjunction with a one-of-a-kind exhibition of gloves and mittens from Selbu at the Sverresborg Trøndelag Folkemuseum. A thoroughly researched and illustrated account of the rich history of Selbu patterning—instantly recognizable for its dramatic contrasts and intricate motifs—covers the development of the designs themselves, and the essential role these knitted accessories have played in the cultural and economic development of the Selbu region.

Then, dive into pages upon pages of over 500 colorwork charts, organized according to the source of their inspiration, from classic stars, snowflakes, and flowers to elk, spiders, and coffee beans. Complete patterns are included for 35 mittens and gloves from the original museum collection, accompanied by short biographies of the original designers—or choose from an overflowing selection of motifs for palms, thumbs, cuffs, and even patterned edging techniques for joining around the hand, to create endlessly fascinating combinations.

Selbu Mittens“It is rare to find a knitting book this well written and that provides this amount of useful information,” says fiber art blogger Lappone. “And it deserves to be read by knitters all over the world. Just under 300 pages and propped with knowledge it is one of the best books on knitting that I have read.”

SELBU MITTENS is 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.

It’s Christmas in August (No, Really!) with These Two New Knitting Books

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One of the views from the TSB office windows.

It is lovely and green outside our windows at the TSB Vermont offices. The sun is warm, but the nights cool, and crickets sing their sweetest tune. Yes, that’s full-on late August for you—the delicious days between blueberries and blackberries that we wish would linger but know will not.

The first sign of the seasonal change to come is the arrival of our two new books—both designed to light your creative fire as we approach the time of gift-giving. If you’re looking for yarny ways to show you care, we’ve got pages of ideas from three of our biggest names and “bestest” selling Scandinavian authors: Arne & Carlos, and Jorid Linvik.

 

 

 

The Balls Are Back, Better Than Ever

Yep, you heard right, 55 CHRISTMAS BALLS TO KNIT, the book by Norwegian knitting rockstars Arne & Carlos that has sold over 100,000 copies, is now available in paperback. If you don’t know what these balls are about, you’re missing out! “You’ll want to knit a few hundred of these ornaments for the holidays,” said Vogue Knitting.

 

70 Handknit Projects, Bursting with Holiday Cheer!

Jorid Linvik’s BIG BOOK OF KNITTED SOCKS and BIG BOOK OF KNITTED MITTENS are fan-favorites, and now she’s given us a new collection of Scandinavian-inspired ornaments, decorations, and gifts for a joyfully handmade Christmas. “Unique, delightful, interesting, and compelling,” raved KnittingandCrochet.net about her mittens book, and you can be sure the same applies to BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS KNITS.

 

55 CHRISTMAS BALLS TO KNIT and JORID LINVIK’S BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS KNITS are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Did you know TSB offers a generous loyalty program? CLICK HERE to find out more about our Needle Points! 

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

Free Pattern! Red-White-and Blue Ocean Motif Pillow

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Summer…it’s ON! Fireworks and cookouts and beach time abound. So let’s celebrate all the happy things that come with the sun, and a safe, peaceful Independence Day with friends and family.

In honor of red, white, and blue, TSB is giving away a FREE PATTERN from the marvelous book KNIT YOURSELF IN by Cecilie Kaurin and Linn Bryhn Jacobsen. This Maritime Pillow is designed in the Danish “hen knitting” tradition, which features knitting motifs that tell a story.

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“One of the most exciting and inspiring knitting books I’ve come across in a long time. Every detail about the book is lovely…remarkably colorful, interesting,
eye-catching, and fun!”—KnittingandCrochet.net

To download your FREE PATTERN, CLICK HERE.

KnitYourselfInKNIT YOURSELF IN is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE. CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Wishing you a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!

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

 

Nina Granlund Sæther in the US!

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The fabulous Nina Granlund Sæther, author of the bestselling MITTENS FROM AROUND NORWAY and all new SOCKS FROM AROUND NORWAY, has made her way to the US where she will have limited appearances on the East Coast.

Nina grew up in Asker, Norway, just outside Oslo. Her love and interest for knitting, crochet, sewing, and embroidery started before she was school-age. She is educated as a craft teacher, and worked for a short time in a high school before moving to a career in journalism with the Norwegian arts-and-crafts magazine Norsk Husflid. Nina creates designs in the Scandinavian knitting tradition for Norwegian magazines and her own striking books.

In or around Boston? Meet Nina at JP Knit & Stitch in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, on Friday, April 26, 2019, from 7 to 9 pm as part of the kickoff to JP Knit & Stitch’s Anniversary Sale, which runs through the weekend. (Plus, Local Yarn Store Day is Saturday, April 27! Yippee!)

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Nina’s books MITTENS FROM AROUND NORWAY and SOCKS FROM AROUND NORWAY are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

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