Saturday, October 1, 2016

Arne & Carlos: I Want a Norwegian Accent When I Grow Up

Warning: fan-girl gushing may pour forth. We'll see what happens.

I had posted a thing or two on Facebook about the fact that Arne and Carlos were coming to a knitting shop near me. If I had thought for two seconds and utilized Google I would have known they were at one even nearer to me that didn't require me to drive across bridges into the depths of the next state over, but let us not dwell (because are they really coming to this one shop in the area all the way from Norway? Likely not). I hemmed and hawed a bit--I had never been to a knitting workshop, I'm a little shy at first, I can learn color-work with the help of the internet, and so on and so forth. After some gentle prodding, I signed up. There was a morning and afternoon class, and I signed up for both, but they canceled the second due to low interest (what the what? I knoooow! Riiight?). So I got my supplies together, packed my book with me (in case I had the moxie to ask them to sign it), and headed off.

I had the best day I've had in a long time.

The class was for a pair of Selbu wrist-warmers. The afternoon class was for Christmas balls (their intention was for the word 'baubles' instead of balls, and were highly amused at the translation). Homework was to knit the ribbing of a cuff. I bought those marbleized acrylic needles for cuteness, but they're a bit 'stickier' than I'd like, so I felt a little slow in my knitting.

When the class started, they handed out the pattern and explained knitting charts to us. After a few tips, they set us off, and walked around the class checking work, offering advice, and engaging in banter.

Arne is in the front, Carlos in the back. Arne knits with those dpns so quickly you think he's twiddling his thumbs nervously, but he's just got that muscle-memory thing down wicked pat. They would circle the room, checking work and observing (like when your teacher used to circulate to see if you really understood long division or something), then take seats at various tables, switching sides, chatting about anything and everything and offering advice.

Before too long, I had this happening--

Arne came by and said "Oh, that is a very good job! ... They are very cute needles!" How could you not love him, haha? I forgot to take a picture of my floats at this point, but they were largely OK. Carlos said "OK, these are very good. Keep going." {Blushing cheeks, haha}.

I was very focused on the task at hand, so almost finished my first cuff by class-end. Then we packed it up, exchanged hugs (they're huggers!) and said good-bye. I was very smiley and shy and goofy, they were very charming. I am so glad I went. Not done yet, keep reading.

So they were on a five-week book tour across the United States. I of course bought their new book. The thing with their books is that they are absolutely beautiful. Even if you don't knit, the pictures and accompanying non-knitting text are stunning and pretty and lovely. But it doesn't hurt that the designs are great, and once you get going with color-work you feel like you really can make all the things.

So the two of them. Arne is playful, self-deprecating in a charming way, and whimsical. I imagine he is the dreamer of many of the designs. Carlos is more serious, and I picture him as handling more of the technical aspects of things. I can see how the two of them together make a spectacular team. Their stories of home and youth are fascinating, and have that great yesteryear thing about them (grandparents' farms, Norwegian traditions, learning to knit by the fireside).

As they sat and chatted with us, we talked mostly of politics but not politics, if that makes sense? There was no judgment, no calling out of politicians (they said "You probably don't see it here on your news, but we have crazy things as well. It's everywhere"). But then we discussed differences in our systems--health care, education, and so on. Economic and political things in countries like Norway are grossly over-simplified with a scary element added to them by our politicians here, but to get it straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, is not so scary. They do their fair share of traveling, and have their fair share of stories of different countries, and friends around the world, so they have a nice overview of different aspects of things that I think are not as deeply understood here.

Anyway, they wrapped up our class with some tips for caring for woolens. First, as many knitters will tell you, wool is the superior fiber. But wool care scares some people (felting? Ahhhh!! I still remember when my mom washed and dried my sister's favorite sweater, unaware that it was wool). So here are a few things they said:
  • Steam is magical. They advised us that even though our wrist-warmers might look wonky, to put a wet cloth on top of the area that needs to chill out a bit, then hit it with a hot iron. The steam relaxes everything, and your work becomes smooth.
  • Steam is magical. So is wool. If your sweater needs to be freshened, do the same thing. Steam it out. The heat relaxes the fibers and releases any dirt. Then you can gently reshape your garment, and as the fibers cool, they stay that way (like wet-blocking without the whole process). This is how they clean their sweaters (unless there are stains on them or something that really needs to be removed, in which case they do the whole wash-block thing).
  • Cold air is also magical. If you wear wool, and it's still clean but maybe smells like perfume, you can hang it on the clothesline overnight in the cold, and it will be perfectly fresh in the morning. If that's not feasible, they recommend putting it into the freezer for the same effect. It sounds counter-intuitive, but they explained the natural properties of wool, and how if you care for it the same way nature does when it's on the sheep, your things will stay beautiful for a long time.
I had read somewhere before (when researching wool fabric) that wool does not need to be cleaned like your regular cottons or polys or other fibers. A light sponging, brushing, and occasional steam will release the microscopic dirt and leave it fresh as a daisy, with a normal laundering necessary only once in a while.

When I came home that day, I put my work on stitch holders (they were for practice) and made another pair for keeps. I switched up the colors this time, and am undecided as to which way I like better. I think I like the red cuffs pictured above better, but I like the below, too. Red and white speaks to my soul ardently, so I'm fine with both. I have plenty of yarn left, so I'm definitely making another pair, but with red cuffs.

After a few other ladies in the class asked them to sign their books, I worked up the courage to shyly hand them mine (as though they're not used to it, right?). Their books now have pride of place on my craft book shelf. I feel like I could easily become obsessed with this kind of knitting, and it's no wonder to me that these kinds of designs are prevalent in the globe's cold corners. Now we know what they do when people say "But what do you DO all the long winter?"


  1. You have done a lovely job on your wrist warmers. They look very professional. You must be a very good student.

  2. Did you say you crossed state lines to attend a knitting class?
    I'm a bit confused who is who. Is Arne the guy with the wild hair? But on the book cover, he's on the right. On top of the book cover it says Arne & Carlos so shouldn't Arne be on the left?
    Too bad the afternoon class was cancelled. It's the translation. Anybody want to attend a class taught by 2 guys? What are they teaching? 55 BALLS. Now you see it?
    p.s. I like the wrist warmer you knitted at the class more. Do people really wear wrist warmers? Why just the wrists? Why not the entire arm. Yes, stupid questions from someone living in a very hot country.

  3. What a fun read! Glad you went so that we could hear all about it. And, yes, you did a very good job.

  4. Oh, how fun!! I love the look of color-work but I'm not ready to try it yet... maybe once I've had some more practice knitting! Your wrist-warmers look awesome!

  5. LOL! They're pretty famous here in NL and I've met them at a bookparty... I will never. ever be able to look at knitted Christmas-balls again.

  6. sounds like a great day, I'm glad you decided to go. I love workshops, meeting like-minded people, learning from the pros, it's great fun. The wristwarmers are lovely!
    it was interesting what you said about politics. do you mean your government fudges information about the politics of other countries to make them sound less appealing?



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