Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns

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9781844483112: Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns

Book by Magnusson Helene

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Revue de presse :

Knitter's Review:Chances are you are unaware that the soft-soled fish skin shoe ever existed. You're probably also unaware of the knitted insert (or insole), which was devised to provide warmth and comfort to the shoe wearer. This Icelandic tradition dates back to perhaps the 17th century and incorporated vivid geometric patterns into those inserts meant to be worn (but never seen) for Sunday church outings and other special occasions.The inserts are thoroughly obsolete and almost wholly forgotten. But thanks to the efforts of designer Helene Magnusson-a French former-lawyer who has made Iceland her home for the past 12 years until a recent move to Luxembourg-Icelandic insert motif knitting has been reintroduced and reinterpreted.Helene explores the history of the knitted insert in her book, Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns. The book traces the origins of the soft shoe and the hazy beginnings of knitting in Iceland, until the two converge on the knitted insert.A Little BackgroundThe Icelandic word for "insert" is illepur, and it shows up in a number of unflattering traditional expressions, such as: Hann var mer illepur I annan sko, andskotinn sa arna, delightfully translated as: For me he was like an insert in one shoe-the devil! Accompanying the text are photographs of dozens of inserts, football-shaped conundrums that Helene unearthed in various museums during the course of her research. The patterns incorporated into the fanciest of the shoe inserts are "joyful and challenging," Helene says. Four- and eight-pointed roses of several already-familiar varieties (step, hammer, wind), and also checks, diamonds, and flowerpots, were knitted up, intarsia-style, on a garter-stitch background-a combination that is likely unique to Iceland-in cheerful reds and yellows and blues and greens, often with accompanying striped embellishment or band-woven edges. A pair was considered an extravagant gift."At the time the inserts were used, they were the only colorful garments in the otherwise somber brown, black, dark blue or grey wardrobes" of hardworking farm and fishing families, continues Helene. "Everyone liked to own a pair of these inserts; they brought color and joy into extremely difficult lives."Taking The Insert OutHelene's book, though, seeks to do more than merely rekindle a tiny, extinguished facet of Icelandic heritage. Its real intrigue lies in Helene's original designs: 26 sweaters, hats, scarves, and mittens in which Helene refashions for a contemporary audience the striking, complexly wrought motifs of the shoe insert. Together they are bold, fresh, and utterly absent of gloom. For all their intense color block stylings, they are also miraculously elegant and modern.Hammer rose-with a square at its core and its eight petals ending in bludgeon-like forms-is the template for both a vest and a cardigan sweater. It makes for a compelling repeated pattern because "it is graphic and versatile," says Helene, "and looks quite different when you render it in different colors." In the first instance: ochre, black, green, red, and violet on a cream-colored background, with eye-boggling results. In the second, the same colors are woven into a green background for a more demure effect.Helene favors, too, an eight-petaled wind rose that decorates a long tunic in which the pattern is magnified to a single blown-out rose and a short cowl-necked sweater in which smaller roses repeat. A comparatively subdued black and white checkered insert pattern for a man's sweater is another of the book's highlights.Native MaterialsHelene uses Icelandic materials: Looband, lafoss Lopi and Lett-Lopi (all 100% new Icelandic wool from Istex and distributed in the United States by Reynolds); and imported Merino spun and dyed in Iceland (Kambgarn). She's chosen Icelandic yarns "for the sake o --Knitters Review

We're always fascinated by the way people in other cultures knit, and Icelandic Knitting traditions are both similar to and different from our own British heritage. Taking traditional knitted shoe inserts as her starting point, Helen Magnusson takes us on a guided tour of techniques and patterns traditionally used in Icelandic knitting, with intriguing bits of information about the culture that created the pieces thrown in for good measure. A talented knitwear designer, Helene uses the traditional motifs preserved on the shoe inserts to create colourful garments for the whole family, from bright knits for babies and toddlers through to full-size sweaters for men and women. The colour combinations are vivid and beautiful, and slightly startling, perhaps, if you're used to the quiet neutrals so often seen on the High Street. Great for kids, brights are a great mood-lifter on grey winter days. We love the jumper Helene has called ' a second eight-petal rose sweater'. Its simple geometric design cleverly conjures up the image of a flower garden without making you feel like a walking rose bush. --Simply Knitting, Nov 08

Biographie de l'auteur :

Helene Magnusson was born in France in 1969. She completed a Masters degree in Law and worked for some time as an attorney in Paris. In 1995 she moved to Iceland where she began studying art and design. She graduated from the Department of Textile and Fashion Design of the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2004, and she now works as a freelance designer. Her inspiration comes from Icelandic handicrafts, which she develops in new and exciting ways. She has taken part in several design exhibitions all over the world.

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