Thursday, November 24, 2016

Magnetospheric Gloves

Presenting my Magnetospheric Gloves, which currently appear in Knit Now Magazine Issue 67!

Ever since I first saw the mood boards that went with Knit Now editor Kate Heppel's call for submissions, I have been eager to see the resulting magazine issue; whether I would end up making the cut or not! The theme was the Northern Lights, with a focus on the commonalities in knitting traditions between the various countries that have the good chance to view them.

Photograph by Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing, used with permission
I thought back to my favourite Northern Lights viewings: as a child when my family drove late at night near Dawson Creek, laying my head down as far as it could go on the door so I could see them better out my window as they danced in greens and blues, with the occasional hint of red so subtle I wasn't sure if I was seeing it; as a teen, at the campground at Okanagan Lake, on a hillside, large bluey-green-to-white lights that rose tall out in front of us, like an Imax screen, looking near enough to touch; newly graduated from University, my future husband by my side, in Halifax, on the balcony at the B&B with the other guests who had rushed out for the show, they were high in the sky, pale in colour but bright and shimmering. One of the other guests at the B&B in Halifax was from Iceland, and she said her mother had always told her not to whistle at the Northern Lights, lest the giants come down and take her head to use in their game of football.

This brings me back to the northern countries part of the call. I feel it's important to note just how vast the North truly is, and to highlight that even though Edmonton is the northernmost large city (by which is meant having over a million population in our greater metropolitan area) in North America, we're not really very far North in the scheme of things. Really, we're pretty much central Alberta, and the top of Alberta might be considered to be touching the Southernmost part of the North, but the amount of North that is North of there is just immense. Still, as an important airport location for access to the North, we've been called Gateway to the North, so here we are. We are far enough North to see the Northern Lights, and that is a lovely thing.

I'm also not from the part of the country that has been connected by water to the Scandinavian countries (that would mainly be Newfoundland, where Anse aux Meadows is an important example of Norse Settlement in North America from the year 1000). In Alberta, we are landlocked, but we nonetheless still have connections to these countries due to all the settlers who arrived at various times to farm our prairies. Just this past summer, my family visited Stephansson house near Markerville, where an Icelandic poet and farmer resided with his family from 1889. We went to the Norwegian Laft Hus in Red Deer that was built to honour Norwegian settlers of the area. We didn't get a chance to see the Danish Canadian gardens and museum near Dickson (maybe next summer? it looks brilliant) that are also located in Central Alberta, but many towns boast Scandinavian ancestry in Alberta.

Stephansson House
Along with Scandinavian settlers came Scandinavian knitting! Of course that knitting has been blended with other traditions as various cultures meet here too. In a country, and province, where a great variety of people from a great variety of places have come to build their lives, I hope we can all be inspired by each other to learn more about each others' traditions, and to continue to build new traditions made stronger by the inclusion of our various roots. I have always felt strongly that the most important Canadian Values are to value each other in this way, and to give one another the chance to grow together while continuing to respect each other's traditions. We may not always have lived up to this ideal, but to live up to it as we move forward is crucial.  

Norwegian mitten displayed at Norwegian Laft Hus
It's possible you may think at this point that I have strayed from the point, but I assure you, I have not. Often, in the Knitting Community, we muse on the topic of interconnectedness, and on how we are brought together by our craft. These connections continue beyond knitting, and can strengthen our resolve to get to know one another better. Karie Westermann, who collaborated on a large part of this magazine issue, often writes about the connections between landscape, geography, knitting and culture, and I recommend also reading her blog post about Issue 67 and about her gorgeous cover sweater.

Canadian knitwear inspired by various Scandinavian knitting traditions, at the Norwegian Laft Hus
To bring this back to the Magnetospheric Gloves, the motif on the gloves is one that can be found in Scottish Fair Isle knitting, but it would also be at home on an Icelandic Yoke jumper. I like that the kinship between the two countries can be seen in these gloves, but that they were designed in a third country in turn, and that all three are bathed by the same lights in the night sky. The Magnetospheric Gloves were worked in Artesano 100% Alpaca 4ply; Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud Fingering  is suggested as a substitute. Using an 'afterthought' thumb, these gloves are a good project for either first-time colourwork, or first-time gloves (or both!). Available in small, medium, and large adult sizes, these gloves are just the thing to bring with you on a chilly night of stargazing, wherever you might be watching from.

From what I have seen so far, this magazine issue is even more beautiful than I could have imagined. You can read about it on the Knit Now Blog, and even better, can purchase a digital copy of the magazine here, and a hard copy here.

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