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My mailbox has been a happy place lately! I’m a book collector and the latest addition to my library is a treasure. Icelandic Handknits 25 Heirloom Techniques and Projects, by Hélène Magnùsson is my favorite kind of book, it includes simply everything! Part scholarly treatise on historic Icelandic knitting, part pattern collection, part technique tutorials, part visual travelogue and even… part cookbook! You really can’t ask for anything more!
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The designs in the book are inspired by artifacts found in the Textile Museum in Blönduós, in northern Iceland. The book is divided by category of inspiration, Mittens, Traditional Costumes, Lace and my personal favorite, Footwear. I’ve been obsessed with the knitted shoe inserts ever since I got a copy of  Hélène’s previous knitting book, Icelandic Knitting: Using Rose Patterns. Last summer, Gudrun and I were intrepid travelers, driving all the way from Reykjavik to Blönduós just for the purpose seeing the inserts housed in the Textile Museum, quite an adventure!

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The museum did not disappoint, and Hélène has included some wonderful images of the items that served as springboards for her patterns. Here is Gudrun – wearing her Lopapeysa- at the museum, notice the grass growing on the roof!

 

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The book includes a wide range of patterns to please just about everyone; mittens, a bag, hats, lace shawls, swweaters, a throw, beaded wristletts and even a skirt based on traditional knitted slips. My favorite I think, are the colorwork socks wildly worked with short rows, so the stranded sections are topsy turvy. CLEVER! The inspiration was the woven bands used to wrap around socks to keep them staying up, which Hélène’s socks cleverly mimic.

The landscape photographs by Arnaldur Halldörsson are spectacular, and his fashion images gorgeous, many were taken during a snowstorm! Undaunted those Icelanders!

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Gudrun and I were so lucky to meet Hélène in her house in Reykjavik – taking time to see us and treat us to an Icelandic breakfast of smoked salmon and other goodies, even though she was in the middle of renovations and it was the first day of school for her kids.  Keep up with Hélène at her blog and website. Don’t miss out on her many other books. As a souvenier when we visited she gave us her sweet and funny little book  The secret of good vinaigrette revealed to Icelanders. I use it ALL THE TIME!  Icelandic Handknits  includes several recipies including a soup with moss as the main ingredient…others recipies are made with easier to find ingredients so don’t overlook this charming feature of the book.

 

Vivacious and unstoppable Hélène leads amazing hiking-knitting-workshops that I’ve always dreamed of going on. The one called Hiking and Knitting with the Elves is one I’m particularly fond of, reading the description over and over!  Best of all would be to attend Hélène’s summer workshop from July 31 – August 6, 2013,  Icelandic knitting traditions: Textile Museum and North Iceland  focusing on the 19th century Icelandic traditions covered in the book. All the designs from the book will be on exhibit at the Textile Museum, from June 1st to August 31st  and  throughout the first months of autumn by request.

The kind folks at Voyager Press are providing a book for me to giveaway to one lucky reader! Don’t miss out – leave me a comment about knitting or Iceland or even elves before next Tuesday April 30th – midnight.

The Blog Tour Continues:

April 4th, 2013: Gudrun Johnston – theshetlandtrader.com

April 11th, 2013: Donna Druchunas – sheeptoshawl.com

April 18th, 2013: Woolly Wormhead – www.woollywormhead.com/blog

May 2nd, 2013: Susan Crawford – justcallmeruby.blogspot.com

May 9th, 2013: Terri Shea – spinningwheel.net

May 16th, 2013: Alana Dakos – www.nevernotknitting.com

If you don’t win, you can buy a copy here.