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.

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.

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!)

Yippee GIF by SKIPPY Peanut Butter - Find & Share on GIPHY

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.

 

FREE Yoked Pullover Knitting Pattern

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Happy Free Pattern Friday! Let’s celebrate the weekend with a new knitting project. Here’s a delightfully simple pullover with a pretty star-studded yoke from TRADITIONAL SWEDISH KNITTING PATTERNS by TSB author and knitting designer Maja Karlsson.

FreeYokedPulloverPatternPin-trafalgarbooks“The color scale of the sweater reflects lonely forests and barren heather-covered moors,” says Karlsson. “The silhouette of this design was inspired by the 1960s, with thoughts of the sweaters worn by Malin on Saltkråkan [a fictional island created by Astrid Lindgren for a Swedish television series ‘We on Seacrow Island’].”

In her book, Karlsson delves into the fascinating history of Swedish fibercrafts and its rich tradition of multi-color patterning. Flowers, borders, geometric figures, landscapes, people, and animals, on their own or together, form the backbone of traditional Swedish stranded patterns.

CLICK HERE to download your FREE PATTERN for the star-studded yoked pullover.

Karlsson’s next book, MAJA’S SWEDISH MITTENS, will be out May 2019. Watch the trailer here:

 

CLICK HERE for more information about TRADITIONAL SWEDISH KNITTING PATTERNS.

CLICK HERE for more information about MAJA’S SWEDISH MITTENS.

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

Your Dog Is Your Brand…So Wear Him!

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If immortalizing your favorite pup as a trendy tattoo is highly unlikely and yet you still wish for a way to display your doggy devotion for all to see, then it’s time to dance that celebratory shimmy! That’s right, DOGS ON SWEATERS, the new book by the immensely popular creators of Best in Show and Knit Your Own Dog Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, is now available! Hold on to your Huskies, here are step-by-step instructions for knitting your pooch’s likeness into everyone’s favorite cozy garment. Get ready to flaunt your puppy love with fashion!

DogsonSweatersPin-trafalgarbooksDOGS ON SWEATERS pairs simplicity and flexibility with a variety of knitwear patterns and styles for men, women, children, babies (and yes, even dogs). Choose between basic sweater designs: raglan, long-and-loose, relaxed-fit, and more. Then pick your favorite canine breed from the 18 featured motifs—or adapt the directions as described for customizing your own. Play around with colors and markings, positions, and shapes, and add words, initials, or your four-legged best friend’s nickname. Plus, you’ll find patterns for dog-adorned accessories, like hats and scarves, a baby blanket, and a charming coat for those with four legs instead of two.

Don’t be the last to live your brand! Break ground, inspiring others in your pack to recognize their dogs’ friendship…for kniternity!

IMG_1913Fun Fact: Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne first found fame when Princess Diana wore their “black sheep sweater” to a polo match. You can see the original sweater as part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

(Photo from http://www.muirandosborn.co.uk)

 

DOGS ON SWEATERS is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order (and watch the book trailer below).

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

 

 

Socks from Around Norway–New from Nina Granlund Sæther!

Socks from Around Norway–New from Nina Granlund Sæther!

Were you one of the thousands of knitters who bought and loved MITTENS FROM AROUND NORWAY by Nina Granlund Sæther? “The whole book delights and instructs” said Publishers Weekly. Well, Nina is back with the followup to her international bestseller: TSB is excited to announce the release of SOCKS FROM AROUND NORWAY, featuring over 40 traditional knitting patterns inspired by Norwegian folk-art collections.

NorwegianSocks-trafalgarbooksExplore centuries of Scandinavian sock-knitting history, with dozens of classic patterns and more obscure design delights drawn from the author’s in-depth knowledge of Norwegian knitting and reconstructed from carefully-researched historical sources. Beautiful photographs and easy-to-read pattern charts complete the experience, making SOCKS FROM AROUND NORWAY the ultimate handbook for any Scandinavian sock enthusiast—and a stunning compendium of Norwegian knitting tradition.

SOCKS FROM AROUND NORWAY by Nina Granlund Sæther is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Did you know? TSB has a generous loyalty program! We’ll pay you to buy your books directly from us, a small publisher based on a farm in rural Vermont.

For more information CLICK HERE.

5 Knitting Tips You Need to Know

5 Knitting Tips You Need to Know

 

5KnittingTipsYouNeedtoKnow-trafalgarbooksDON’T YOU LOVE IT when someone who has mastered a craft shares a trade secret? Something that ensures your creation comes out with the polish that comes with years of practiced expertise? Yeah, we do, too, which is why we have collected five great tips from some of our top authors.

 

KNITTING TIP 1

It’s a traditional saying in parts of Scandinavia that if you put aside knitting in the middle of a row, a sailor will drown! (Much like stepping on a crack is said to break a person’s back, in parts of the US.) While you probably don’t have to worry about that particular consequence, it isa good idea to finish the row you’re on before you set a piece aside, if only to avoid dropped stitches or pattern mistakes when you pick it up again. (Tip from TRADITIONAL SWEDISH KNITTING PATTERNS by Maja Karlsson.)

 

KNITTING TIP 2

Cables are beautiful and fun to knit—but they can be a little tricky, too! Wrapped stitches are a quick and relatively easy way to add a little visual interest withoutknitting a cable: just place a small number of stitches on a cable needle, wrap the yarn clockwise twice around those stitches, and then slip them to the right needle without working them. (Tip from THE CABLE KNITTER’S GUIDE by Denise Samson.)

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KNITTING TIP 3

It’s usually a good idea to use the needle size recommended by the manufacturer of your yarn—but you don’t have to! Fine yarn on big needles will come out light and lacy, and thick yarn on reallybig needles will come out looser and drapier. Or go smaller for a denser, sturdier knit—perfect for a handbag or a change purse! (Tip from ONE-PIECE KNITS by Tine Tara.)

 

KNITTING TIP 4

When you’re binding off on a circular needle, it’s important to remember to knit the first stitch of the round one more time before the previous stitch is passed over it. (Tip from KNITTING DETAILS START TO FINISH by Ulla Engquist.)

 

KNITTING TIP 5

Even in the most complicated pattern knitting, there might still be single-color sections—and when those sections are more than 5 stitches across, it’s a good idea to catch the float (the strand not in use) on the wrong side! Otherwise, it’s easy for floats to catch on your fingers (when putting on a garment) or on something else (the hook of a clothes hanger) and pull, or even break. (Tip from MEDIEVAL-INSPIRED KNITS by Anna-Karin Lundberg.)

These books, and many more bestselling knit, crochet, weaving, mosaic, and other craft books, are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

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

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Winter on Trafalgar Square Farm.

Danish Knit Designer Vivian Høxbro Featured at 20th Anniversary Madrona Winter Retreat

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We are thrilled to announce that Danish knitwear designer and TSB author Vivian Høxbro will be a keynote speaker and teacher at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington, February 14-17, 2019. Not only is Madrona celebrating 20 years of hosting their popular event, it will also be the last as organizers have announced their retirement.

traditionaldanishsweaters-trafalgarbooksVivian Høxbro’s Friday night talk will explain her recent research of the Danish Nattrøjer (“night sweater”) and the distinctive star and cross patterns that were traditionally on them. She will also share samples from her forthcoming English-language edition of the book TRADITIONAL DANISH SWEATERS, which will be published by TSB in July 2019.

Høxbro will teach a class she calls “Star Struck” Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, which will show students how to knit the 19th-century Danish star motifs featured in her book. There are many different kinds of stars, and they can, in turn, be used in a variety of fabulous patterns. To register for the Retreat and Høxbro’s classes, CLICK HERE.

Høxbro has been designing for knitters for more than 30 years and is well known for her books on Domino Knitting and Shadow Knitting, as well as her patterns on Ravelry.

traditional danish sweatersCLICK HERE for more information about her book TRADITIONAL DANISH SWEATERS.

Hope to see you in Tacoma!

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