A week into our Norwegian adventure and we seem to be pulling the sun along with us! It has been raining here A LOT. Rivers are full to overflowing, mountain streams are beautiful with their raw power, but when we are out and about and needing sun – or at least no rain – the weather cooperates. We pulled into Lillehammer tonight under a gorgeous rainbow that seemed to end at the Olympic ski jump. According to the Weather Channel, tomorrow will be sunny and 70 degrees. The rest of the week rain. That’s fine with us, we head to Oslo for our last three days Wednesday.
Our first full day off the ship, we visited Rauma (www.raumaull.no), who produce the line of Norwegian wool yarns that we carry in the shop. In Norway you can only purchase their yarn at the mill and at the government Husfliden shops where all products must pass quality standards to be included. Our behind the scenes tour was eye-opening for many. We saw a room full of containers of raw fleece, another of washed raw fleece and rooms full of yarn. We visited the dye rooms where new colors are developed and old colors are kept true to previous dye lots. Many things affect color including the mineral content of the water and the color of the “white” wool. Their boxes of dye make our one pound canisters look pretty tiny. At Rauma, the yarn is spun before it is dyed. It was interesting to see that each strand of yarn is inspected mechanically before it is plyed. If there is a slub, the machine cuts it out, repairs the join and continues looking for imperfections. Very fascinating. One of these days, I’ll put together a more complete story about the process, but in the meantime you can enjoy these behind-the-scenes photos.
Bales of washed wool. Wool is now washed in England as environmental laws make it cost-prohibitive to wash it in Norway.
A stack of dyed wool waiting to be put into skeins.
Skeins of yarn ready for shipment. About 5 to 10% of their wool is sold to the US.
Rauma has a complete in-house system. Sweaters are knit on industrial knitting machines and then hand assembled. Sweater pieces are carefully kept together so that the dye lots match throughout.
This is the view from the front of the property. Imagine having to look at this every day when you went to work! Arnhild said that not all the snow will melt by the end of the summer.
After buying our yarn (yes, even shop owners get sucked into the excitement of seeing so much yarn in one place), we drove to the top of Trollheimen mountain. Having forgotten that heights bothered me, the trip up was a little dicey (check out the road in the photos), but once I could see where we’d been, I was mostly okay! The view was incredible, the mountain stream clear and sparkling in the midday sun. See for yourself:
The tourists takes a picture of the tourist taking a picture.
The view from the top.
More troll houses. LOTS of troll houses.
The route up the mountain. See why I was a little shakey?
The stream near the top.
Knitters resting after viewing the falls. It is fun to see people knitting a pattern that I designed.
Our next two nights were spent in Selbu, the self-proclaimed Mitten Capitol of the World. They take their mittens – and knitting – very seriously. Our first stop was the Bygdemuseum, that celebrates the Selbu mitten and knitting in general. The mittens ranged in size from baby to giant. Giant meaning as large as a table cloth – one of which is on display and is intended for a Guiness World Record entry. It was interesting to know that men’s mittens have no cuffs and women’s have either ribbing or a lace edge. Women’s mittens are also knit at a finer gauge than mens. None of these distinctions matters in the mittens for sale to tourists, of course. Most mittens offered for sale are of worsted or bulky gauge, so as to make them affordable to purchase because larger yarns knit up faster. Just a few photos from the museum:
Vintage sweaters. Love the green one that is an interpretation of a weaving pattern. (Krokbragd)
Most Selbu mittens use only black and white yarn.
The knitting museum has a wonderful collection of kitchen linens and potholders. Doesn’t this look fresh and clean?
Practical. Need a rug to go around a corner, then fold it!
Vintage sweater sporting the “Selbu Rose.”
Band weaving looms and bands.
Following the museum, we went to a local farm that has been turned into a heritage center. The buildings were quite beautiful from the outside, with the history preserved. Inside the historic shell, lives a fully modern facility with a huge room for lectures and events. We were treated to both. A lecture about the farm’s history and about emigration to American and the return of these same people to their homeland. About 18% of the emigrants returned, bringing with them both knowledge from America and contacts that were beneficial to their community. Following the lecture we were treated to a light lunch and then a nine-person band played for us and two couples performed “country” dances. The band was comprised of guitar and base players and SEVEN accordion players! Arnhild, a dancer for many years, joined in the dancing and soon many of our fellow travelers got in on the fun. It was just one of the treats/surprises that Arnhild has arranged for us.
Rugs as dividers.
Attentive listeners. Check out the screens in the background that are covered with vintage textiles.
Hardanger embroidery (we’ve got a class in this coming up).
Arnhild dances accompanied by a nine-piece band and a good spirited Norwegian dancer.
A pretty window in the farmhouse.
Pansies are everywhere!
The side of the barn.
Hay drying in the field.
Luck was with us, as there was a local festival in the town center with perhaps 50 booths selling local food, crafts and even home climate systems. A potpourri, just like a festival at home. As luck would have it, we found a huge tent rummage sale that church ladies were running to raise money for children in Romania. I found several beautiful textiles for next to nothing, including a sheet that appears to be made from handspun linen in the weft and commercial cotton in the warp. My best guess is that it is about 100 years old. A real treat!
A statue in downtown Selbu of mother and child knitting.
Today was spent in Røros a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For many years Røros was known for its copper mines, which have since closed and there are many artists in the village as well as tourist shops. Our hotel was very old (1800’s, perhaps), but had recently expanded to have rooms in a former weaving mill. I had a great time playing photographer as I hope these photos attest:
Check out the crochet in the windows.
The very best part of Røros was visiting Røros Tweed, makers of woven blankets. This was my first time to see modern mill weaving equipment. They had two types of looms – “old style” eight shaft looms and Jacquard looms, a dozen in all. You can see their work at: http://rorostweed.no/2011/111125-08%20Hovedkatalog%20GB.pdf. Here are a few shots of the mill:
Warp beams wound and ready to go to the looms. And, yes weavers, there is a cross at the end of the warp.
Woven blankets awaiting wet finishing (brushing, fulling).
Tomorrow, another adventure that includes visiting a 1000 year old church in a setting similar to Greenfield Village.