Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Julekuler-Norwegian Knitted Balls

Monday, December 10th, 2012

It’s rainy here these days.  We’ve only had one brief dusting of snow which was quickly washed away by showers.  All the rain is making me remember my experience in Norway.  There is some amazing knitting that originated in Norway, the entire Selbu tradition for instance.

I recall my visit to the Selbu knitting museum where a young boy working there on a summer job told me that the very intricate mittens were knit in a day by Altzheimer’s patients who had forgotten everything but mitten knitting.  I’m a little doubtful as to the truth of that story, but here’s another little bit of Norwegian knitting that could be done in a day.  From my poor translations of the Norwegian websites I’ve discovered that Julekuler are knit balls that are stuffed, and hung as Christmas decorations.

Here’s the pattern for the reindeers in love julekuler shown below. (ravelry)

julekulerI knit this one for my brother and his wife to celebrate their first married Christmas.  He has a thing for moose–reindeer are pretty close.

Two Norwegian guys Arne and Carlos have made many different Julekuler as seen below.

image source:

Their pattern for the snowflake Julekuler is given on their site.  I made this one for my other brother and his wife for their first married Christmas.  snowflake

If you are counting down the days until Christmas and looking for a quick and interesting project, I recommend giving these a try.  They’re knit in the round with a gauge that creates a dense fabric so the stuffing doesn’t show through.  I’m sure there are lots of traditional motifs around, but I’m sure that a creative crafter could invent some non-traditional motifs.

image source:

Happy knitting!

A Hat For Dean Kamen

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Ever since knitting a hat for Woodie Flowers at the New York City Regional competition, I’ve been thinking about what would make a good hat for Dean Kamen.hat 52

People had mentioned that he wouldn’t wear it unless it matched with his denim ensemble.  The FIRST logo is very important to him, so that was incorporated, as was his name, and of course lots of robots!

During the competition, one of our mentors wore a hole in her jeans, and we sacrificed them for the cause.  The jeans were cut lengthwise in strips about 1/4 inch wide (any thinner and the fabric will fray too much, any thicker and it will not knit properly).  The denim strips are in the stripes at the top of the hat.

Knitting the hat was the easy part.  Finding Dean Kamen on the last day of Championships proved to be much more challenging.  After the final matches on Einstein, I headed out with another mentor in search of him.  We were lucky to meet Monica, a woman who works at FIRST in New Hampshire.  She told us that Dean had already left the building, but that she would pack up the hat and card, and be sure that he got them.


Thanks Monica!  We appreciate your helpful delivery.  We’re hoping that Dean will wear the hat, and take a photo to send to us, but we realize he’s a busy guy.


To see more of what we did at our competition, and to see the FIRST build season in a nutshell tune in to CNN, they’re airing a special about education and how special FIRST is.

St. Louis

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Heading to St. Louis (19 hours on a bus) was great for sleeping and knitting.  The weather was stormy, and it was hard to see the arch as we approached.

archThis hat, number 50 was intended for Morgan Freeman…but we never ended up seeing him or hearing him at the competition.  Hat 50 will be repurposed for someone else sometime soon.

hat 50

Hat 51 was created in the stands at the World Championships.hat 51We had an exciting time playing with and against the best robots in the world.  We met some of our old friends, and made new ones.

team knitters

It turns out that several teams knit hats!  I’d like to think ours are the most unique out there, but I challenge all other teams to engineer creative hats for themselves.

ASIMOWe saw ASIMO the robot from Honda that can climb stairs, run, walk, and stand on one foot (as seen above).  It was such a great demonstration of highly skilled engineering and design.

archCaptain Canada and I had a walk and saw the arch in the sunshine…. and later in the trip we all were treated to a concert by the Black Eyed Peas.

concertIt was an exciting time for all of us!

hat 51

Before I knew it, hat 51 was complete!  The needles didn’t sit idle for long.  A hat for Dean Kamen was the next on the agenda.

A Hat Fit For Woodie

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Last week, in New York with K-Botics, we met a man named Woodie Flowers.  He’s an important founding member and mentor for the FIRST robotics organization.  He models “G.P” (gracious professionalism) in his interactions and encouragement for our teams.  He asked us all to sign his shirt, and he chatted with us about our team and our robot for a while.  I had thought it would be fun to make him a hat, so we asked if that would be ok.  He got out his iPhone and used the caliper tool to measure out how big his ponytail is so we’d know how big a hole to put in the hat.  What a guy!

hat for woodie

I knit through most of the day, and ended up with a hat by the end of it!

hat for woodie

It had GP on the back by the ponytail hole, and Woodie written across the front.

hat for woodie

We wrote him a thank you card for being such a good example for us.

WoodieFlowersI think he was pleased to get his new hat…

WoodieWhat do you think?

What To Bring To A Robotics Weekend?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Yarn!  It’s great for knitting hats….here’s hat #45 (2nd one this weekend)

hat 45

Our robot needed some rope to pull a part loose and deploy our minibot.  We took turns making a braided rope (similar to making friendship bracelets).  It’s cool that our team yarn ended up on our robot.

making rope

The yarn was also great for games of cats cradle that kept breaking out while waiting for something to happen…

cats cradle

Before long there were cats cradle games in the stands too!

cats cradle

So be sure, when you are packing for a competition, bring along a little yarn for you and your friends.

Hello From New York!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

This past weekend I was with the K-Botics team in New York City to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition.  It’s been a busy 8 weeks preparing a robot and fine tuning our team and strategy for competition.  There were ups and downs along the road but it’s all worth it when you get to competition and catch the excitement!  hat 44

Part of my job as a supervisor is to help out in the stands while others work on the robot in the pit area.  The stands are full of kids, cheering and scouting the robots as they play.  I generally bring my knitting along with me and see how many hats I can make in a weekend.  Almost everyone on the team has a hat…but this hat, hat #44 is special.  It’s not for our team.  It’s for a member of FIRST team 694, Team Stuypulse from Manhattan New York who very graciously offered to have some of our recent material order shipped to their address because it would take too long to get to Canada.  We appreciate the extra effort extended by this team, and so, to say thanks, I knit them one of our hats (in their colours).

team 694Their logo is one of the cutest I’ve seen.  from 2809Of course we signed our thank you gift.  And I very stealthily took pictures of it being worn during practice day-a very intense day where everyone gets a lay of the land, sets up their pit area, gets their robots to pass inspection, and connect to the field.  Some robots work right away, and others take a lot longer to become functional.  Strategy gets discussed, and scouting begins.  It’s the start of a busy weekend.

discussionsWe spent the rest of the competition cheering in the stands right in front of Team 694.  They are an enthusiastic group who brought vuvuzelas!  They also brought us cookies–We LOVED the cookies.  It’s great that even though we were rivals in the matches, we were friends in the stands.

No Big Surprise!

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

What else would I be doing now that robot building season is done?  Of course I took a road trip to watch a robotics competition, and brought along my knitting!

on the road

I was lucky to be a passenger, so I had lots of time to knit.  That much knitting represents Kingston to Burlington.

number 42

It got finished during the VEX robotics competition in St. Catharine’s…and I had time to start another hat while I watched the robots battle each other for control of the stacks of rings.  It’s impressive what high school kids can do!

at VEX

On the way back home today, hat 43 got finished.  It is topped off with i-cord and pompoms, and glow in the dark embroidered robot and team number.

number 43

Slowly but surely our team will be outfitted with the coolest hats in town.  We compete in New York City in 12 days.  There’s lots of knitting to be done between now and then.  There’s lots of robotic preparations to do to.  Looks like we’ll be busy for another few weeks!

Finally…A Two Hat Day

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Hat number one was cast on while riding the bus to Ottawa.  Knitting and bus rides are a no-brainer for me, and this fall, it seems like I’m only knitting robots!  This is the beginning of hat number 34 for K-Botics.

This hat is unique in that the robots are not all the same colours.  I attempted to work 3 colours in each row without tangling everything into a giant knot.  It’s a challenge….and I don’t know that I’d do it again.  Another issue is that with carrying colours behind the work all the time, you have to really be careful that the hat doesn’t get too tight.  I think that this one worked out alright.  It fits my head anyway.

The hat enjoyed a visit to the Canadian Currency Museum.  It’s free, and really really cool!  I recommend going next time you are in Ottawa.  The hat and I were both surprised to see a $7 bill.

The next stop was lunch and a tour of the Rideau Center and the Byward Market.  The hat got bigger over lunch, and was finished while watching a game of “cut the rope” on the i-pads at the apple store.

The hat made some friends at the market.  Someone tried to sell me a hat for $20 dollars….they said it was hand made.  I showed them my hat.  The sales man couldn’t believe that I could make a hat.  He wanted to see my tools.  I showed him the needles, but I don’t know if he was impressed or not.  He stopped trying to sell me the hat, and let me take pictures.  I tried to explain my blog, but I don’t know if he understood.

There were really cute mittens there too.  I think they can double as puppets.  A neat idea!

Back on the bus again, and I wasn’t the only one knitting.  Here’s a guy from the K-Botics team who has taught himself how to make robot hats.  What a kid.  He’s wearing one of the hats I made last year.

We were on the road again, headed for Carp Ontario, home of the Diefenbunker.  My hands were idle, and before I knew it, I had cast on for another hat.

the bomb is a replica

I knit on the sly during the tour, but was so caught up with the information being delivered that I totally forgot to take any pictures.  Coming out of the bunker, I tried, but the lighting was weird.

Pictures didn’t really turn out until I got outside again.  This hat is striped with bits and pieces of blue and purple.  It’s going to have some finishing touches added later.

The hat was finished on the bus ride home, but since I don’t travel with a bodkin with me, the embroidery will have to be completed later.  I love how every new hat is my favourite until the next one is finished!  Here’s hat number 34.

And here’s hat number 35.

looks different in daylight. I love the stripes!

I have even cast on for hat #36.  I don’t know when this obsession will end!

You Can’t Knit In Question Period

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Today I went to Ottawa with a group of high school students.  On the way I started knitting a robot hat.  It is our goal that each member of the robotics team I mentor will have a one-of-a-kind hat knit in our team colours.  They are quite a conversation piece at competitions and also around the halls at school.

By the time our bus got to the Ottawa War Museum, I had finished the robot stranded knitting section, and was moving on to improvise the rest of the hat.

War Museum

We toured the War Museum, seeing artifacts from many different wars, including Hitler’s car.

We met several veterans and heard many stories of their life on the front lines.  This man was telling us that as an airman he needed to wear three pairs of mittens.  The inner pair was silk, the next was wool, and the last was some kind of animal hide.  He said that it was very cold, but he needed to use his fingers, so by removing one or two layers he could do what he needed to do and still keep his hands warm.  It was touching to see how the students enjoyed chatting with the veterans, and how much the veterans wanted to share their stories with this young generation, so far removed from war.

In the World War I section of the museum, it showed how women used to knit socks for soldiers fighting overseas.  It is common for knitters nowadays to knit helmet liners for the troops.

I was surprised when I came across a display of knitted and crocheted dolls called Izzy Dolls (pattern, and information on how to send your completed dolls).  Each doll is given to a child in a war torn area by soldiers and peace keepers.  Each doll has a card attached with the following message:

“IZZY DOLL”, Made for you with love, in memory of MARK ISFELD,
killed near Kakma, Croatia 21 Jun 1994, removing landmines
serving with 1 Combat engineer Regiment, Canadian Engineers.

After the war museum, we headed to Parliament to get a tour, and then attend Question Period in the House of Commons.

The details of our Parliament buildings always astonish me.  Today I was fascinated by the carved unicorn at the entrance.

I knit outside while waiting for our group tour to begin.  People were taking bets on whether my needles would be confiscated when we went through the initial security screening.  Lucky for me, they were allowed!  So, I was able to knit in line to the top of the Peace Tower, and I was able to knit through lunch too.

Here’s what I had done by the time we got into the Senate chambers.  Later on in the afternoon we were able to attend Question Period, where the Opposition members questioned the Government about all manner of current events.  To get into the House of Commons Gallery, you need to pass through another layer of security, where cameras, phones, pens/pencils, big belt buckles, bags, and…yes…knitting gets confiscated and kept in safe keeping until you exit.  I had never seen our Government in session before, and although the Prime Minister was not there, the other party leaders were, and there was a very lively debate.

I kept knitting on the bus as we left Ottawa.  By the time we stopped for an emergency snack/washroom break the hat was complete!

Here’s Joy wearing her hat.  I love the fact that it is almost like a wizard hat, a little crumpled, but with definite character.

Basic Stats (mostly for my own recall later):  Cast On 100 sts, work K2P2 ribbing with stripes.  Work team number and robot chart.  Work stripes again.  Begin to decrease (K8, K2tog).  Every 5th row work decreases.  Alternate stripes as desired.

Our bus ran into a lot of slow traffic on our way home.  I’m already done 1.5 inches of hat number 2.  It certainly was a productive, and interesting day.

FO: Mittens for Evan

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

One month ago today….

I was on vacation, meeting alpaca.

and dyeing roving on the fire.

Today I’d like to present to you the result of all that spinning

I have completed a pair of mittens for Evan (my traveling buddy) to commemorate our adventure, and remind him of his introduction into the crazy world of fiber arts.  (He spun the white fleece on a drop spindle at our campsite)

The mittens have 2010 on the cuff (palm side) and on the back of the wrist they have alpacas!

All of the black stranded colourwork is done with alpaca that I bought on our trip.  This means that the inside of the cuff is extremely soft and fluffy.

I like how all of the colours stripe and blend together.  The mittens don’t match perfectly, but I think that adds to the charm.  They are one of a kind, and will be making their way to Providence this fall for his birthday!