It was the wee hours of the morning, still dark, with ice crystals framing the windshield of the car and I was watching the snow covered farms slip past my window as I tried to muster the will to move forward towards the airport which nonetheless seemed to be racing towards me. I didn’t want to leave. This remarkable land of my ancestors that, somehow, had a firm grip on my vitals seemed as reluctant to let me go as I was to leave–it was not loosening its grip on my heart. Lost in my self-centered revelry, my thoughts went to my great grandmother, Susanna, who left by the steamship, “Amerikansk Linie” from Bergen, Norway 138 years ago–hers was a final farewell, just once–that final. She was leaving behind very hard times…and thought she would be reuniting with her dearest love after landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and making her way westward to Wisconsin. That is another story for another time, but she is a frequent visitor to my thoughts when I am knitting Norwegian-inspired designs and especially when I make my journeys back to “gamle Norge.” On this farewell–on my journey to the very modern airport that would not only send me back to America, but promised to allow me to return to this magical land in only a few months time–I was nonetheless tearful and heartsick to leave…and then my cousin turned on the radio and a lilting and ironically joyful tune broke through the silent morning, turning my tears to laughter, as LoMsk squealed and pranced through this song:
“..Som å kome heim til norske fjell
Som å kome heim til bre og elv
her eg ser Montanas kvite tindar stikke imot ein himmelkvelv”
(Som Å Kome Heim by LoMsk)
(Listen to “Som å komme heim” on YouTube)
A rough translation…
“…It’s like coming home to Norwegian mountains
Like coming home to glaciers and rivers
here I see Montana’s white peaks piercing the vault of heaven…”
On the one hand, for me, knitting is an expression of the deep, unexplainable connection I feel to my ancestral home. Not unlike the early Norwegian immigrants to America who saw in their mind’s eye the mountains of home when they made their way across America, the power of this country of mountains and fjords moves from my heart to my hands. But on the other hand, my designs don’t have the vintage flavor–as much as I am a fan of vintage–they are rooted in NOW; they have a practical aesthetic born of today.
In 2017, I began designing a series of knitting patterns that I am more and more calling “New World Knitting.” Take it how you please: “New +World Knitting”? Perhaps: a new twist inspired by international designs? Yup. Or, “New World + Knitting”? That too. Like the Montana settlers in LoMsks’s song, and like Susanna, who embarked on her adventure to a new place, the power of the past gives color and texture to new experiences.
I launched “Jotunheimen Cowl” this week — with a limited-time coupon code for a free download. Enjoy the pattern and see if perhaps you can hear the mountains calling.
The inspiration for this design is Jotunheimen, the impressive mountain range, extending from south-central to western Norway. This mountain range is known as the home of the jotuns (a race of giants) and plays a central role in Norse Mythology and Folklore. You will recognize it from the films featuring the Marvel character Thor, the Nordic film, The Ash Lad, as well as the classical music composed by Norway’s Edvard Grieg, “Hall of the Mountain King.”
This cowl features a textured motif which is an artistic interpretation of the five highest peaks of Jotunheimen (Galdhøpiggen, 8,100.4 ft; Glittertind, 8087.3 ft; Store Skagastølstind, 7890.4 ft; Store Styggedalstinden, 7831.4 ft; and Skarstind, 7798.6 ft) and the innermost arm of Sognefjord which reaches towards this majestic mountain range.
One of my test knitters, from St. Louis, announced the completion of her project with “Mountains in St. Louis!” These mountains can travel.
I actually did stick to the plan and, when I reached the airport, collected my baggage from the boot of the car, checked it in and, with time to spare, made my way to the closest coffee vendor, trying to set my sights forward for the long day ahead. The barista made my brew and set it down in front of me: Yup, “The Mountains Are Calling” — right there on the cup. One last tug from the homeland. I’ll be back!