Exploring Norway: Part 2

I'm late! But as promised, here's a recap of the last few days of our visit to Norway. There will (fingers-crossed) be a final installation, featuring the last days of our trip which were spent in Sweden with dear friends.

 View of Tromsø from Storsteinen

View of Tromsø from Storsteinen


As the largest town in Norway above the Arctic Circle (3rd in the world behind Murmansk & Norilsk in Russia), Tromso is still a remote place to visit and required a flight from Ålesund back to Oslo to fly up North again (on our budget at least!). The fact that it lies in the Arctic and offers views of the Northern Lights from the start of Fall through the end of Winter was our drawing point when committing to the journey to this remote Norwegian city.

 Beautiful, traditional Sami Reindeer boots hanging in our Host's dining room window.

Beautiful, traditional Sami Reindeer boots hanging in our Host's dining room window.

 The sweetest friend we made in Tromsø

The sweetest friend we made in Tromsø

 View to the South West, leaving  the main island for our Apartment in Kvaløysletta.

View to the South West, leaving  the main island for our Apartment in Kvaløysletta.

When we arrived the sun was still up, and the sky was clear offering us a view to the North from Tromsoya, the island home of Tromsø's city center and University, to where we would stay in the neighborhood of Kvaløysletta. Our hosts weren't home when we arrived, but we were greeted by the Family cat who was more than grateful for some petting and hello's (I wish I could remember her name). The sky was cloudy when we made our way back from dinner in the town that night, so if we had any hope of viewing the Aurora Borealis it would be the next night.

Although we only made room for one full day in our itinerary to visit the Arctic, Tromsø's city bus system (a given throughout Norway, blessed Scandinavian Design) allowed us a jam packed one: a Museum trip, a cable car ride, hiking, yarn shopping, and dinner before making it back to our Air BnB to wait for a show of lights in the sky!

Tromsø University Museum

My favorite exhibit from out whole trip was by far the collection of Sami clothing and handmade wares in the local Museum's permanent collection. Akin to the indigenous Eskimo population of North America, the Sami people have a rich tradition of thriving in the harsh Arctic climate spanning from Norway to Russia. As I walked through the permanent exhibit that held archives of their history during the expansion of Norwegian territory into now Northern Norway, they're history seemed all too similar to the Native American's struggle within America. It's a story of forced assimilation into a newly established Norwegian culture, and rejection of their language and lifestyle. Thankfully there have been major strides in recent decades with the creation of an independent Sami Parliament which works to secure their rights as a separate people with their own institutions and traditions.. The University Museum has done an excellent job preserving and displaying the beautiful, skillfully made tools and crafts that represent the Sami of the past so all who visit Tromsø can admire the rich history that helped establish the area.

Click the featured images for a better view!  I loved the precious mementos and scaled models of traditional huts and homes, but of course, the hand-knit items and weavings were my focus.

Intricate colorwork, hand knit mittens on display.

Knit natural rope or jute.

A photo of Sami children wearing traditional "kofte" clothing, surrounded by detailed illustrations.

A Sami ceremonial skirt and hand woven belts.

An array of colorful headwear and hats.


After leaving the Museum, we stocked up on snacks to bring with us to our next destination and took a bus across the water to ride the Fjellheisen (the exact translation is Mountain Elevator) in Tromsdalen.  I can't remember the last time I road a cable car before this trip, but the gained perspective of Tromsø and speedy elevation gain up to the mountain ledge Storsteinen were thrilling. From the top, we were treated to panoramic views of the surrounding Islands, Mountains, and Fjords. I was grateful for all my knitted accessories, especially my Mustard Mitts, which I finished in Oslo, since the exposure on the Mountain made for cool temperatures.

In the last several years I've truly enjoyed the trips I've taken, and I know part of the reason is that I've learned the art of keeping fewer expectations. Not forming such a pre-defined idea of a place I've yet to visit, and getting lost in my dreams of things I've yet to experience has allowed my travels to unfold how they may, bumps and all, and relish the journey as I go. It's taken practice, and I'm  certainly not perfect at it - trust me!

Hiking up the Storeinen presented an array of Autumnal colors I was charmed to discover. Although I'd planned the majority of our trip, figuring out lodging, booking flights, trains, coordinating with friends, I didn't delve into the offerings of each city we'd landed on going to. Due to Tim's research and curiosity about the Geography of this Arctic town, we'd made our way to the top of Storeinen. The location brought me a sense of magic with the unraveling of the unanticipated beauty of the ground cover plants. Sites of raspberry shaded leaves, lime-mint colored sprigs, ocher moss, and speckled, slate stone scattered the rolling Mountaintop against a cerulean sky. Geirgangerfjord was majestic and overwhelming in its grandness, but this terrain was just as striking in its details and subtleties.  We spent a while sitting on a quiet patch of mossy boulders, taking in the slowness and view. I feel inexplicably grateful to have someone by my side to share beauty and moments like that with, and this last year we've had many together!

Since our trip fell right on the edge of the shift between Summer and Fall, we lucked out with the sun still staying up till a decent hour - 6pm to be exact. Visiting a yarn Mecca like Norway got the better of me a few times on our trip, as it was ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT. Between the Museum and our hike on the mountain, I'd been able to squeeze in a visit to Bundingen, one of the amazing local yarn shops, to snag a sweaters quantity of yarn for Tim's Fort Pullover. But while the light was starting to fade up on Storsteinen, I realized my last window to scope out Norwegian wool before we flew to Sweden was about to close with the shop at 6pm. In the end, we missed our prime viewing spot to watch the sunset, as we rode the bus back into town, all the while making it back too late for me to shop for more yarn. We can laugh about it now, but man did I pay for missing that sunset! I definitely came home with half or more of my suitcase filled with skeins and ball of amazing Norwegian yarn, so that last shop stop wasn't necessary after all...

Back at our Apartment, after dinner we started packing for our early (7am) flight back to Oslo the next morning- which began with a trek on foot from Kvaløysletta, across the bridge to the Airport in Tromsoya! (Running with suitcases down streets was a theme for us on this trip.)

Just before midnight, when the sky was dark enough, we ventured back out into the cold Autumn night. In our remaining window of time, the Arctic worked its magic in a display of wispy, undulating, green streaks above our heads. Almost as though it was teasing us, the light shifted with the blink of an eye from one form to another, like gentle ribbons tossed into the dark sky. It was a perfect cap to our short trip in the North, a place of harsh weather and gentle beauty.

Exploring Norway: Part 1

2017 has truly been my best year yet! The many adventures I logged would have meant little had I not enjoyed them alongside my partner and best friend. Tim and I check more achievements off our list in our first year together than I probably have in the last few years. The biggest of which was getting his passport stamped for the first time!

Over the Summer, Tim's cousin Bella was accepted for a Study Abroad program in Oslo, Norway, through an exchange her University offers. I knew we'd have to find a way to visit as soon as she announced she'd be leaving for the Fall Semester. I was eager to return to Sweden and revisit family friends. Several who I hadn't seen in 4 years since my trip after graduating college, as well as explore a new part of Scandinavia, and introduce Tim to the wonder-filled beauty that I've long held dear to my heart.

Although our trip was back at the end of September, right before the Nordic light was lost to the short hours of Autumn, I've been waiting for an opportunity to share some of my favorite moments of our travels. I've broken the pictures up with the timeline of our adventure, which lasted 11 days and stretch between 4 towns/cities.

Since it took me until the last day of the year to recap our trip, and there are tooooo manyyyy photos, I'm going to break this into two posts with the remaining details featured on January 2nd. For now, here's a sweet summary of our time in Oslo,  Ålesund and Geiranger. Enjoy!



Easily the most famous place in Modern Oslo, we visted Vigeland Park on our first day in the city. Lucky for us it was a short walk from our apartment in Majorstuen (Oslo is generally very walkable and accessible by Metro and train when needed). Declared the World's Largest Sculpture Park by one single artist, this park's impressive collection is filled with more than 200 pieces by Gustav Vigeland's lifework. I would have enjoyed exploring the on-site Museum that features models of the Park and other works by Vigeland, but continually revolves exhibits featuring Sculptural and Experiential Video Art installations.

 Three Fates Wrought Iron Gate

Three Fates Wrought Iron Gate

 The Fountain

The Fountain

 The Monolith

The Monolith

 No. 27: Man chasing four geniuses, before June 1930. Bronze.

No. 27: Man chasing four geniuses, before June 1930. Bronze.

National Gallery

The majority of the works in the collection dated from Antiquity until 1945 are viewable here at the National Gallery site. Its well worth the browse! Unfortunately I didn't take note of the title and artist of all the works I captured. Here are few of my favorites.

Ålesund in route to Geiranger

The geographically closest, large town with an airport in relation to Geiranger, Ålesund holds many of its own gems. I so wish we'd had more time in each town we went to. It was evident there was history crammed into every cobblestone and hill of this town, but it offered a reprieve from the more touristy destinations, like Bergen and Trondheim, due to its less frequent flight routes. Although it is often on the routes for Cruise tours, we enjoyed the charm of the Old Town on the island Aspøya, where we stayed. The Ålesund kirke, or Church, resides on a cobblestone road that runs through the residential part of the island, and was the path between our Air BnB and the main town.

Walking this street to and from our Apartment was incredibly distracting. Tim was a patient companion for the most part, and would pause so i could oogle all the precious details in the architecture and masonry.


Geirangerfjord is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of only two fjords in Norway with this designations, it was an easy choice when deciding on where in Norway to spend our time. Lined with waterfalls, towering mountain peaks and abandoned remote farms, the narrow water way is up to 600 feet deep. It's one of the most majestic places I've been fortunate to visit and is worth the small trek by bus, car and boat from Ålesund

Part 2 featuring our time in Trømso and Sweden to follow!

2018 Project Plans

Project plans for 2018 are dancing in my head, as I know they are for the rest of you Knitters and Sewers. While I should be looking back at what I've made in 2017 - its far more than I have before, eek! - I'm looking forward to what I'd like to make this upcoming year with all the tools I've acquired.

Back in September my Mom gifted me a new sewing machine for my birthday. I had donated my old, simple Singer when I moved last January, thinking I'd upgrade my machine game. Definitely upgraded with this workhorse Brother machine. 2018 will hopefully be the year I accomplish more sewing. I have a list of forgotten WIP's and new projects that this new machine will get to cut its teeth (needle) on.

Project #1

Pattern/Designer: Teolaí by Patricia Cox, featured in Laine Magazie #3

Materials: Harrisville Designs - Flax & Wool Blend Yarn in Fieldstone Discontinued

 photo courtesy of Jonna Hietala

photo courtesy of Jonna Hietala

This lovely, texture filled cardigan has been calling my name since I first glimpsed a hit its detail from a post before Issue 3 of Laine was released. I'd hoped to use Soft Donegal like Patricia used in issue version, and have been longing for a staple, gray cardigan. I'm a bargain hunter though, and was able to find a sweaters worth of discontinued, Flax & Wool worsted-weight yarn by Harrisville on Ebay. A hugeeee score! Gift knitting has been taking up my project bags, but I've been itching so badly to swatch for this, the self-discipline is giving me hives (thankfully not truly!)

 photo courtesy of Ravelry user Mayapof

photo courtesy of Ravelry user Mayapof

Project #2

Pattern/Designer: Nova by Shellie Anderson for Shibui Knits SS16

Materials: No Clue!

 photo courtesy of Shibui Knits

photo courtesy of Shibui Knits

When I initially dove into knitting in 2013, my last year of undergrad, I was fortunate to acquire Weaving, Knitting and an array of Textile tools and fibres my Mother had amassed in the 80's while building her career as a commerical artist. Hopefully I'll eventually expand on her work and its influence on my current path in Fiber Arts in this blog, but one of the things I discovered she still had, was a Passap Knitting Machine. 

Fast forward to last summer, I decided it was now or never, I wanted to learn how to use the damn thing. Helen Sharp was a gracious dose of reality when I inquired about her Beginning Knitting Machine course, and suggested I start off with one of her standard Brother/Studio/Toyota machines, which would lay an initial foundation for embarking into the significantly different world of a Double-Knit, Knitting machine such as the Passap.

I walked out of Helen's studio this July eager to get my own standard machine, and found an amazing deal on a Studio 560 with all the bells and whistles. Now, to finally make something with it will require reviewing the notes I took, re-watching class videos and research. But Shibui's Nova is a simple enough pattern (yet complex with multiple techniques) as a first garment to adapt as a machine-make.

The Nova is a simple stockinette stitch tunic with a ribbed collar, and mirrored purl columns detail down the sides. Knit in one piece, then seamed under the arms, with the collar added after the fact, it appears to be a good beginning machine knit. I have some modifications I'll need to make so I can knit it on the machine. DK weight isn't ideal on the standard needle bed the 560 has, but it's possible!

 photo courtesy of Shibui Knits

photo courtesy of Shibui Knits

Project #3

Pattern/Designer: The Minimalist Wallet by Noodlehead aka Anna Graham

Materials: Print Shop Textiles's Black Grid

 photo courtesy of Anna Graham

photo courtesy of Anna Graham


I purchased the pattern and all the notions, sans leather, through her online store after she announced a limited edition fabric collaboration with Print Shop Textiles for the Regular and Mini size that was too perfect for me to resist! Yep, total sucker for a hand-drawn line pattern.

 photo courtesy of Anna Graham

photo courtesy of Anna Graham

I swooped up a regular size wallet's worth of the Black Grid pattern fabric, as well as the black, brass zipper, and matching brass snap button closures. Pretty much the exact sample wallet Anna sewed (pictured below), but I've yet to decide if I'll be using leather. Becoming Vegetarian this last year has left me incorporating Vegan choices into my lifestyle, and leather is on the table. That rant is for another post, but as for this wallet, an accent fabric to compliment the dark heathered gray from the Print Shop fabric is likely to be my choice for the closure flap.

 photo courtesy of Anna Graham

photo courtesy of Anna Graham

WIP #1 

Pattern/Designer: The Scout Tee by Grainline Studio

Materials: Nani Iro Double Gauze 

 photo courtesty of Jennifer Beeman

photo courtesty of Jennifer Beeman

I purchased this pattern, errr... 3 years ago? It's one of my oldest WIP's and has been forgotten and forgotten again. I've seen countless versions of this pattern while scrolling through my IG feed when it was first released. It's one of Jen's first released patterns under Grainline, and I'm excited to finally make one for myself.

The fabric I had for this first Tee is just enough for a cropped version of the tee. I purchased the end of a bolt at a now-closed Japanese Fabric Store, and my dearest friend gifted me a remnant she had of a different colorway with the same print to make it a cute duo-tone top.

With the fabric cut out, which I hastily did before understanding the wonderful concept of making a muslin mock-up, I don't have any scraps of this fabric to spare. I'd rather not experiment with the assembly using it, so to a muslin I'll go. Anticipating ample planning and research of this technique, so if anyone has any resources they've found helpful, I'd be the utmost grateful for any links!

Jen at Grainline has blogged extensively about making different versions of this pattern, so i'll be able to follow this entry and others she's written while making the final tee.



New Workshop Date!

Slow Clothes: An Introduction to Knitting has been rescheduled for the first weekend of October! This Southern California Summer has brought insidious relentless heat waves and less than ideal conditions for knitting, specifically with wool! The considerate women who run the Women's Center for Creative Work have been gracious in rescheduling the date for our collaborative Introduction to Knitting Workshop to better suit the weather on hand.

Sunday October 3rd, from 12-4pm will be the new day and time for a hands-on, engaging opportunity to begin winding your yarn of knowledge around the art of knitting your own fabric and clothing! Please be sure to register before hand in order to reserve your seat as space is limited, and explore the expansive community, professional, and self-growth oriented events and workshops that the WCCW offers.


Slow Clothes: An Introduction to Knitting

Over the past 2 months, in spurts of off time from my day-job and maintaining relationships with friends and family, I've been curating a small zine about knitting and its ability to offer us a slower pace in life through "meaningful making". The idea for the zine sprouted from my decision to expand on my love for knitting and the fiber arts, by partnering with the Women's Center for Creative Work in Echo Park, to host an Introduction to Knitting Workshop. Slow Clothes, Part 1, is a collaborative assemblage of personal commentary on the counter-cultural Slow Movement, and the power knitting has to bring us into simple moments of being. The pages are laden with art and photography by Long Beach friends, and the pattern I wrote exclusively for the workshop will be included, as well as some reference material for those just embarking on fiber exploration. A Part 2 is envisioned for the future as well, which will be about sewing in relation to a slower paced life.

I will elaborate more on the zine once time allows. For now, check out the flyer and description below for more details about the workshop, and go to womenscenterforcreativework.com to sign-up. Make sure to register in advance!

For life really is a stitch. It has a beginning, a midpoint, and an end. It serves a purpose, and if we’re lucky, it creates something beautiful and enduring. – Clara Parkes

Workshop Description:

In this workshop you’ll learn the foundations to knitting and forming your own fabric stitch by stitch. During this 4 hour session you will be introduced to the tools and techniques essential to beginning and completing a knitting project. By the end of this workshop you will be able to wind a ball of yarn, create a swatch with basic stitches, cast on, bind off and seam the edges of your fabric into your own knitted pouch! Project yarn & needles will be provided, as well as your own copy of “Slow Clothes”, a zine about the Slow Clothing movement, which includes the instructions for the workshop and the pattern for the project we’ll make. Please bring a snack, water and eager hands!

Baking with Cast-Irons

Cast-iron skillets are ingenious and incredibly versatile. Since I received mine, many delicious, simple recipes have resulted. They retain heat well, and their non-stick properties are an inherent quality, as long as they're cleaned properly. "You can keep the same pan for 100 years," Martha Stewart has a wonderful short article about the care, creation, and acquisition of these beautiful pans.

I'm very fortunate to have parents who have continued to spoil me into my adult years. I'm also fortunate to have one of Southern California's best Antique Markets take place down the street from me on the 3rd Sunday of every month, which is where my Dad picked up my pan. I'm not sure of the age, but it's a 10 incher, and just needed a good olive oil seasoning before I put it to good use. I've been slowly acquiring cookware that I know I will use and last years on years - items I'm willing to invest a little more in, knowing my kitchen will be simplified and that I don't have to regularly replace lower-quality utensils and ware. This wonderful pan has become a great staple in my kitchen, and it's yielded some reliably simple recipes this last year.

  Dutch Baby pancake on New Years morning, 2015.    Dutch Baby Recipe    from the Martha Stewart Archives

Dutch Baby pancake on New Years morning, 2015. Dutch Baby Recipe from the Martha Stewart Archives

Swedish Visiting Cake

I stumbled upon this recipe from the archives of Dorie Greenspan's Blog, while searching for something I hadn't baked before, and a cake I could make in my cast-iron. I've baked a few traditional Scandinavian recipes, like Lussebullar (Saffron Buns), Swedish Butter Cookies, & Æbleskiver, which have become a tradition to make at Christmas time, ever since I discovered my Mom's cast-iron Æbleskiver pan.

I have an odd relationship with Marzipan, an almond-paste, malleable like fondant, but gritty with almond texture. Growing up, my Mormor would always buy Princess cake when birthdays rolled around, and I loved the sugary (always pink), subtly-almond Marzipan cover. Yet anytime the cute, hand-shaped candies arrived during the holidays, I was always disappointed by the strong Almond taste they possessed, and for years, projected my childhood remembrance and disdain on them. It wasn't until a few years ago, that I realized my tastes had changed, and I began to crave the nutty, fragrant taste of Marzipan.

This Swedish Visiting Cake has the almond essence of Marzipan, without the sticky, gritty texture, and is an easy bake when looking for an almond-fix. No one visited this weekend, but this cake is fitting even for a home-body like myself. So simple, and beautiful in appearance with the scattered almond-top. I will definitely make this again - especially since I now have an abundance of slivered almonds!

 Finished Swedish Visiting Cake with a slivered almond top.

Finished Swedish Visiting Cake with a slivered almond top.

Acorn Teeth Mitts

My relationship with knitting began in the same way many learning-to-knit stories do . I was 12, and found it intriguing, but lacked the patience to progress beyond following a basic scarf pattern. I mastered the garter stitch, but my fingers and heart didn't take to it with passion. I cycled through returning to knitting basic scarfs while in High School, but my interest in it wasn't piqued again, until the Fall before my last semester of college in 2012. I remember seeing a Pinterest tutorial for knitting a basic scarf in the round, and was intrigued. I studied the pattern, and took many trips to Jo-Ann's to decide what kind of yarn worked with the needles I needed.

It was at this time that things started to click. I had the determination, and after I knit several Infinity scarfs, I graduated to beanies, and made a couple "Thank You" Hats by The Purl Bee. My Senior Design project was inspired by my new-found interest, so I designed a Store-In-Store for the brand Wool & The Gang (link to project).  Knitting is gaining pace quickly among Millennials like myself, but 2 years ago, the "trendy" patterns and yarn companies were just starting to sprout, and it was somewhat difficult to find an established brand who I felt I identified with. WATG was in its early phase , and I loved their designs and kits.


 I've persevered with knitting. It's fulfilled my need to keep my hands busy, while constantly creating challenges and new techniques to master. Patience, determination, craftsmanship & pursuit of passion are qualities I've been taught through this craft. Over the last 2 years I've moved slowly, knitting during my off-time from my day-job, designing retail displays. Beanies, scarves, socks, boot socks, and most recently mittens, have all been bound off on my needles. AcornTeeth Mitts, by the Knitwear Designer & Illustrator Dianna Walla, were my first attempt at 3-color Fairisle, as well as my first pair of gloves. 

They took me a month through the process of knitting, ripping back rows (repeat, repeat), and learning to perform knitting surgery and grafting (the result of knitting one cuff too short), but I completed them. The process is the addiction I can't shake. Planning is in my nature, and this art feeds my insatiable thirst. It doesn't help when there are beautiful fibers, colors & notions that accompany it, as well as the most supportive community of Crafters that can be found online.

You can follow my Fiber Journey on Ravelry at BlueHorseWoolens, and on my Instagram @bluehorsewoolens.

Thanks to my talented, Mark for the beautiful photos.