Weaving Refuse: Handwoven Art with a Message Made from the Ocean’s Garbage

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We are all facing the growing crisis of plastic refuse overwhelming our oceans. One TSB author is using her crafting skills to turn garbage into art with an eco-conscious message. Mette Handberg’s books NORWEGIAN PATTERNS FOR KNITTING and SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS bring the history and artistry of Scandinavian knitting traditions to knitting aficionados everywhere. Recently, however, she has set aside her knitting needles and made her hands busy weaving the garbage found on the beach near her home into striking tapestries.

“Since I came to the magical Norwegian island of Stokkøy (in 1965), which is by the coast of Troendelag, I have been studying everything that brought by the ocean and landed on the beach,” Mette explains. “Years ago it was mostly oil that I found, in big brown lumps, often unbroken light bulbs and glass bottles, probably from Russia, driftwood of all sizes, and many other kinds of waste, likely from boats. In the last 20 years, however, this has all changed, and now it is mostly plastic.

“I have always had a reaction to all kind of unnecessary waste,” she goes on. “It has been too simple for people to just throw things over board and think, ‘That’s that!’ But it does not disappear. It does not go away. It ends up somewhere. This is pollution of the worst kind, and it is changing our globe dramatically.”

We asked Mette to share a little about the kinds of objects she has found and the inspiration behind the tapestries she has created, weaving the found objects together into stories intended to inspire discussion, and hopefully, action.

“I have always gathered interesting objects from the shores—maybe a well-used toy, a nicely shaped root, or whatever. About five or six years ago I thought that maybe some of these found items could be used in a handwoven tapestry, and so I started with my first, which I called ‘Plastic Sea.’ All of the materials were gathered by the shore at Stokkøy—a lot is everyday household waste…too much plastic. Do you remember ‘Kinder Suprise,’ the hollow chocolate eggs with small plastic toys for children inside? They still exist and I’ve used them in my tapestries.”

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“Look carefully at Plastic Vortex and you might see the tale of a whale trapped in it. A diver is about to cut it loose. Ropes and old fish nets are a death trap for lots of kinds of animals, and they suffer a slow and horrible death. Luckily, in my tapestry, someone is able to come to the rescue, and this brave diver is really a hero.”

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“The Japanese artist Hokusai made a fantastic and very well known woodblock print called “The Great Wave,” and this iconic masterpiece has been inspiration for many artists. In my tapestry “Plastic Wave,” instead of a Japanese boat you will find life boats filled up with too many refugees, and they are wearing life jackets, which will be of no help if the boat is sinking. These life jackets will actually drag people down into the deep. After the tsunami on the coast of Japan, entire towns were pulled out into the sea. All kinds of materials ran ashore along the West Coast of North America—a lot of these materials were of course plastic. If this sunami had happened a hundred years ago, it would have looked different. All the unnecessary pieces of our everyday households, which in earlier times would have been degradable, will almost forever be floating around us.”

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“My inspiration just comes to me—it is, in fact, my main job as a textile artist. I went to a weaving school for half a year after I graduated from college. After that I spent three years at art school, and it might be compared with a bachelor degree. I learned a little bit of everything in school, not just tapestry weaving, but it just happened that weaving became my special field.

“All together I have made about 240 tapestries in my career—big and small ones. The technique has changed as the years have passed. To create tapestries you just have to learn the hard way. Nowadays looms seem to have disappeared from art schools, and other schools as well. This profession is dying. Some guardian angels have been giving courses in the profession, but it still seems to be dying. Lucky are the ones who have grandmothers to help them with a loom of some kind!

MakingArtOutofOceanGarbage-trafalgarbooks“One of my tapestries is at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum [National Museum of Decorative Arts], in Trondheim, Norway. I have participated in a long list of exhibitions, both alone and together with others. The world will see nothing if I don’t exhibit them. But many artists want to exhibit, so there is a lot of competition, and it is enormously hard. Anyway, I will only be one of many who are interested in making this point—it’s a trend nowadays. I hope more and more people will ‘wake up’ and not leave their waste all over! I ask everybody reading this to bring a little garbage bag wherever you go, and gather waste when you find it where it shouldn’t be. Always leave a place as if no one has been there. Use less plastic and only if it seems necessary and you have no other option. Plastic is here to stay; use it wisely.

“I hate fleece!!”

Mette Handberg’s knitting books NORWEGIAN PATTERNS TO KNIT and SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS are available from the Trafalgar Square Books 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 company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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The Best Craft Books of 2018

The Best Craft Books of 2018

We may not be huddled in Times Square (yet), but we’re well outfitted for the cold with all the hand-knit and hand-crocheted garments and accessories we’ve made this year. And the source of inspiration? The amazingly talented authors of our craft books! We are so proud to publish these innovative creatives from around the world, and we have a whole lot more exciting ideas for makers in store. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a quick look back at the books we published in 2018.

Our Year in Craft Books: 2018

 

Faroe Island KnitsFaroe Island Knits (January)

The Faroe Islands, a far-flung archipelago lying halfway between Norway and Iceland, have a rich and longstanding knitting tradition—knitting was once one of their largest export industries, as well as a dearly-loved pastime. Now, inspired by this bountiful heritage, knit designer Svanhild Strøm and her mother Marjun Biskopstø have brought contemporary style and classic Faroese motifs together in this striking collection of 52 traditional Faroese designs on hats, sweaters, ponchos, slippers, and more.

 

Knitting with Beads Made EasyKnitting with Beads Made Easy (February)

It’s never been easier to knit with beads! From pretty pearls to classic silver or gleaming glass, beads are the perfect way to add a little glitz and glamour to any knitted project-and knit designers Liv Asplund and Jane Asprusten have finally made it as simple as it sounds. Using their straightforward technique, novices and veterans alike can take their pick of dozens of gloves, hats, headbands, wrist warmers, bags, and scarves, in thin yarn or thick, with small beads or large, and craft fun and fancy accessories in style.

 

Medieval-Inspired Knits PBMedieval-Inspired Knits (March)

Now in paperback! Inspired by the richly decorated interiors of medieval churches in the province of Uppland, Sweden, this gorgeous book is a visual playground for the knitter. Author, graphic artist, and hand-knit designer Anna-Karin Lundberg provides a stunning photographic glimpse into her country’s creative and religious history while explaining her own fascination with the motifs, colors, and shapes of the Middle Ages. Lundberg then seamlessly translates the luxurious swirling vine patterns, graceful borders, and exciting color combinations from dozens of dramatic mural paintings and period textiles into sumptuous modern-day knits anyone can wear.

 

ArneCarlosFavoriteDesignsArne & Carlos Favorite Designs (April)

Knitters, crocheters, felters—crafters from all over the world have learned to look to the dynamic Scandinavian design duo and style influencers Arne & Carlos for what to make next. Over 15 years and 7 uniquely beautiful instructional books, Arne & Carlos have built their brand, from breakout phenomenon to reliable supplier of how-to information and creative inspiration. Now they have gathered their pick of the “Best of the Best”– 70 of their favorite techniques and patterns from their previous books and pet projects: balls, dolls, birds, slippers, sweaters, scarves, mittens, and more–and combined them in one glorious, highly illustrated package. There is something here for everyone, whether hardcore fan or neophyte: Arne & Carlos not only share their greatest hits in fresh and exciting ways, they also provide 15 never-before-seen projects.

 

Carefree CrochetCarefree Crochet (May)

May Britt Bjella Zamori is firmly in love with the possibilities of dynamic openwork, playing with yarn weight, and crochet that’s easy and undeniably wearable at the same time. In this fabulous collection, you’ll find soft, lovely crochet pieces for both summer and winter use; big and small projects like scarves, short and long vests; heavy, cozy yarns for long-sleeved sweaters and light, drapey yarns for dresses and skirts; plus cushions, accessories, blankets, and so much more.

 

Knitting for the Fun of ItKnitting for the Fun of It (June)

Get ready to be immersed in the strikingly vivid world of handcrafting designer Frida Pontén, who’s brought some of her favorite patterns together, 44 in all into a brilliant celebration of all things knitted. Whether you’re seeking an airy summer jacket, a cozy poncho for cool days, a warm striped scarf, enchanting wrist warmers, or fun and funky blankets, look forward to breathtaking designs that are sure to be a highlight of your home or wardrobe.

 

Fave Scan Proj Weave PB CoverFavorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave (August)

45 timeless designs specially chosen from the popular Scandinavian weaving magazine Vävmagasinet offer all the help and inspiration you need to create a delightful and unique focal point for any room in your home. Each pattern is intentionally versatile: choose from a wide array of fabrics to suit your individual style; change the size and color of blankets, pillows, and rugs to complement a room’s décor; or match the color of table linen to your favorite china.

 

Wild Mittens and Unruly SocksWild Mittens and Unruly Socks (September)

Review some of the basic techniques of working with multiple colors to help you find your footing, and then get ready–get set–and go wild! With fierce tigers, brilliant peonies, looming giraffes, cute Chihuahuas, and creeping jellyfish, this collection of over 20 different stranded patterns for socks and mittens is bursting with inspiration.

 

Easy Cable and Aran KnitsEasy Cable and Aran Knits (October)

This stunning collection features 26 luxurious projects with all the delight of classic textured cable patterns, plus renowned designer Martin Storey’s trademark contemporary appeal. With a versatile range of garments–including scarves, hats, mittens, shrugs, sweaters, and more–this book provides a unique opportunity to expand your repertoire of stitch patterns.

 

Big 3 Knitting TechniquesThe Big 3 Knitting Techniques (October)

Ann-Mari Nilsson’s comprehensive pattern treasury covers the “big three” knitting design techniques, from easy to challenging: multi-color, slip stitch, and relief stitch. The book includes basic templates for a wide variety of garments; mix and match with whatever catches your eye from the library of over 80 charts for pattern knitting, and work your choice of accessory with whichever design you like best.

 

Beaded Wrist Warmers from LithuaniaBeaded Wrist Warmers from Lithuania (November)

Beaded wrist warmers are a vital, beloved, and beautiful part of Lithuanian traditional costume. That’s how Irena Felomena Juškienė discovered them: As a member of a group of artists dedicated to classic Lithuanian dance and music, she wore them during performances. When she decided to explore the roots of these knitted accessories, Irena found they were a fascinating part of the regional history and culture of Lithuania. The results of her journey have now been brought together in a compilation of beaded knitting patterns that spans centuries, dialects, and multiple museum collections.

 

Winter Knits from ScandinaviaWinter Knits from Scandinavia (December)

Knit designer Jenny Alderbrant has collected 24 of her best-loved patterns for mittens, hats, and socks, with dozens of colors and delightful motifs that’ll keep you warm all winter long. Try out time-tested classics like flowers and starry snowflakes, or get creative with cats, butterflies, and more! Featuring easy-to-adjust sizes, for children and adults, and eye-catching designs to suit every taste.

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Our very best wishes for a safe, peaceful, and very happy New Year.

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

Come See TSB at the 2018 Fiber Festival of New England!

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TSB is excited to be set up and ready for this year’s Fiber Festival of New England, November 3 and 4, 2018, at the Eastern States Exposition grounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Stop by and visit with us in booth #281W in the Mallary Complex. Tell us (or show us!) what you’re working on, and browse our selection of bestselling knitting, crochet, weaving, and spinning books. We have special show-only deals, sign up to win a gift certificate to spend in our online bookstore, and get up close and personal with the beautiful handmade sample projects from our talented craft book authors. Our top names include Scandinavian design rockstars Arne & Carlos, renowned spinning and weaving expert, the late Anne Field, and knitting and cabling innovator Elsebeth Lavold.

Show hours are Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, 9 am to 3 pm.

See you in West Springfield!

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

Want to Weave Like an Expert?

Want to Weave Like an Expert?

Tina Ignell is a journalist who trained as a handcraft consultant and spent many years as director of a handicraft center. She is also editor of Vävmagasinet, Scandinavian weaving magazine, which she and her husband, a photographer, run together.

Ignell knows that many of us not only want to be surrounded by gorgeous handwoven textiles…we want to weave them ourselves! That is why she chose 45 designs from her popular magazine and compiled them in her book FAVORITE SCANDINAVIAN PROJECTS TO WEAVE, which is now available from TSB in paperback. Behind each one-of-a-kind pattern is an expert designer and weaver to guide you, providing straightforward, step-by-step instruction as well as how-to and troubleshooting tips. Materials are easy to find and fun to use, and many can be woven on a loom with four shafts and four treadles.

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Ignell’s book includes:

  • Almost 50 unique projects developed and tested by professional weavers.
  • Step-by-step instructions, charts, illustrations, and color photos.
  • Most projects use 4 or 8 shafts; some are plain weaves.
  • Work with linen, half-linen, cottolin, wool, paper, and piassava.
  • Versatile ideas for pillows, throws, rugs, curtains, table linens, and more.

As an added bonus, Ignell includes a special section on the care and handling of textiles, with guidelines and hints about featured fibers.

FAVORITE SCANDINAVIAN PROJECTS TO WEAVE is available now 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 craft and equestrian books, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Join TSB at VT Sheep & Wool Festival, Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30!

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TSB’s crafty contingent is excited to set up the TSB booth at the 30th Annual Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival, which is happening this weekend, September 29 & 30, 2018 at the historic Tunbridge Fairgrounds in Tunbridge, Vermont. The festival is open from 10am to 5 pm on Saturday, and from 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

Come enjoy the animal barn, shop the Festival Marketplace, try a fiber arts class or a shepherding workshop, plus many other vendor demos and activities. In addition, there’s a very cool onsite stitch-marker swap! Bring markers that you have made or bought and swap with other stitch marker swappers!

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Here’s how it works:

  • Visit the Vendor Pavilion and pick up a map of all the vendors who are participating.
  • Wear the button given to you to identify yourself as a swapper.
  • Visit any/all participating vendors to swap markers.
  • Look for other people wearing a button and swap with them.
  • Meet up with other swappers at noon both days, just inside the door of the Vendor Pavilion.

TSB has free handmade stitch markers for all who visit our booth located outside the Pavilion Building under the overhang #8. Stop by and say hello, tell us what you are working on, and sign up to win a $50.00 gift certificate to our online bookstore. Check out beautiful sample projects from our newest books, plus we’ll have copies of all our biggest hits and bestselling backlist available for sale.

 

See you in Tunbridge this weekend!

 

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

Join TSB in Celebrating Local Yarn Store Day, Saturday, April 21, 2018!

Join TSB in Celebrating Local Yarn Store Day, Saturday, April 21, 2018!

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What’s better than spending an hour or two immersing our creative senses in colorfully spun skeins of wool, mohair, alpaca, and silk? Maybe having a pleasant conversation with a like-minded individual who is equally at peace as she roams, in search of a specific shade or texture…perhaps asking a question of a helpful staff member nearby, or complimenting the handknit sweater she proudly models?

Many of us count down the days to our monthly, maybe even weekly trips to our local yarn stores where we’ve nurtured friendships with staff and fellow customers; where we’ve relished the chance to get up-close-and-personal with the materials that bring our handmade projects to life; where gatherings, lectures, and demonstrations have educated us and many others. When we shop at our local yarn store, we know our hard-earned dollars are going to support the local economy, that they are helping our communities remain vibrant and diverse in their social and commercial offerings, and they are ensuring crafting, making, and using one’s hands—in both traditional and innovative ways—has a future in a world dominated by technology and voice activation.

Local Yarn Store Day (#LYSDay) is a brick-and-mortar yarn shop appreciation day created by TNNA Yarn Group (www.tnna.org). The inaugural LYS Day will take place on April 21, 2018, and is designed to show support for small businesses while bringing together a unique community of knitters, crocheters, weavers, and spinners to drive awareness and celebrate the craft.

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One of our local yarn stores!

Are you a fiber artist? Do you enjoy knitting or crocheting in your downtime? This is your chance to celebrate everything you love about yarn and help others learn to enjoy it, too. Bring a friend to your local yarn shop on April 21! Take pictures at your favorite store and share them on social media. Spread your passion for creating far and wide while supporting the business just down the road.

As an added bonus, Local Yarn Store Day will feature items from your favorite yarn companies and designers that will only be available at brick-and-mortar local yarn shops (not online). So make your plan now to visit your local yarn store on Saturday!

We’re thrilled to say these participating yarn shops carry Trafalgar Square Craft Books:

Monarch Knitting (Pacific Grove, CA)

The Woolery (Frankfort, KY)

Mother of Purl Yarn Shop (Freeport, ME)

WEBs-America’s Yarn Store (Northampton, MA)

Harriet & Alice (Edina, MN)

Amazing Threads (Maple Grove, MN)

StevenBe (Minneapolis, MN)

The Yarnery (Saint Paul, MN)

Knitty City (New York, NY)

The Tinsmith’s Wife (Comfort, TX)

Blazing Needles (Salt Lake City, UT)

Laughing Sheep Yarns (Charlottesville, VA)

PinchKnitter Yarns (Stanwood, WA)

The Sow’s Ear (Verona, WI)

 

Happy Local Yarn Store Day everyone!

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