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Jane Austen och hjälpstickning

En av alla (och det finns många) utgåvor av Jane Austens roman Persuasion, i svensk översättning Övertalning.

Nu har jag hittat — eller snarare råkat upptäcka — ett avsnitt om hjälpstickning i en av Jane Austens romaner, Persuasion!

Jag har läst den flera gånger och lyssnat på den som ljudbok ännu fler — upptäckte den en gång när jag var tvungen att skanna mer än tusen sånger ur olika böcker en och en som en del av arbetet med ett stort sångboksprojekt. Jag arbetade till klockan två en av nätterna, men Anne Elliot och hennes familj och vänner höll mig sällskap!

Nu har jag lyssnat på den igen medan jag har hållit på med olika praktiska saker, och plötsligt slog det mig att det som Annes väninna Mrs. Smith, en ung kvinna som har blivit änka, förlorat alla sina pengar och blivit reumatiker samtidigt, och hennes sjuksköterska, en mycket företagsam och kommunikativ kvinna, håller på med är typisk och klassisk hjälpstickning. Här:

[Mrs. Smith] had seen too much of the world, to expect sudden or disinterested attachment anywhere, but her illness had proved to her that her landlady had a character to preserve, and would not use her ill; and she had been particularly fortunate in her nurse, as a sister of her landlady, a nurse by profession, and who had always a home in that house when unemployed, chanced to be at liberty just in time to attend her.

”And she,” said Mrs Smith, ”besides nursing me most admirably, has really proved an invaluable acquaintance. As soon as I could use my hands she taught me to knit, which has been a great amusement; and she put me in the way of making these little thread-cases, pin-cushions and card-racks, which you always find me so busy about, and which supply me with the means of doing a little good to one or two very poor families in this neighbourhood. She had a large acquaintance, of course professionally, among those who can afford to buy, and she disposes of my merchandise. She always takes the right time for applying. Everybody’s heart is open, you know, when they have recently escaped from severe pain, or are recovering the blessing of health, and Nurse Rooke thoroughly understands when to speak. She is a shrewd, intelligent, sensible woman. (…)”

En som är tvungen att sitta stilla får lära sig att sticka av en som rör sig desto mer. Det stickade ser den rörliga till att sälja till människor som har pengar och som just i det ögonblicket är tacksamma att vara friska, och pengarna förmedlar den rörliga sedan till andra människor som behöver dem. Perfekt!

(Detta äger rum i en tid när textilt handarbete tillmäts ett större värde än idag, såklart.)

Det finns många andra sorters hjälpstickning, men det här är definitivt en klassisk sort.

Fascinerande att Jane Austen kunde beskriva också detta så exakt, eller hur?

Stickning som terapi

Fina tips blir jag alltid glad för!

Nu är det Carol som har skickat en artikel från The Knitting Space till mig, ett litet reportage om hur kvinnor som för ganska många år sedan flydde kriget på Balkan och hamnade i Chicago i USA har kunnat hjälpa sig själva och varandra genom att sticka tillsammans. De har sina minnen från kriget i Bosnien men använder garn, stickor och virknålar för att hitta lugn och balans i det liv de lever nu.

Först trodde jag att det var en helt oseriös artikel med en bildbyråbild — kvinnan i mitten är ju så tydligt asiatisk. Men det visade sig att gruppen har varit igång ett tag nu och att den välkomnar medlemmar utan erfarenheter av Balkan-kriget också. En kvinna från Korea och flera kvinnor från Pakistan har kommit med.

Extra fint eller hur?

The Waiting Half-Mittens

Av Posted on Inga taggar 0

This is a translation of Väntarvantarna, a Swedish step-by-step tutorial that I published some days ago. My very dear friend Ita asked for an English version, and that was a challenge I couldn’t resist. Here you are, Ita!

***

Do you think it’s OK to knit mittens in this summer weather?

I do! Especially when

1. the needles (number 4, and circular, but that’s just for convenience, I could just as well have used two straight ones) were released from another project,

2. a couple of little left-over skeins from a left-over table at a charity knitting day (a slightly more luxurious wool yarn) appeared,

3. an old idea emerged again!

What I’ve done is making use of the fact that knitting withour purling at all results in a super-elastic structure — and turning it around in order to maximize it.

The yarn shifting colours makes this idea even better, of course!

(My mother let me take photos of her hands.)

Because I started on a day when I had to wait for a train for more than an our, I decided to make my very first step-by-step photo tutorial. Uusally that’s something I can’t do — I only knit in the bus, sometimes in the train and maybe in the kitchen of some friend while we’re sitting there talking and it’s dark outside. Now I had daylight and a project that moved forward so quickly that I could manage the documentation!

Let’s start:

Start by knitting the cuff. Cast on to the width that you like — here it’s 26 stitches.

Knit until it’s enough to reach around your wrist. For me that meant 84 rows.

Cast off all stitches except the last one. Make it loose — this edge will (later) be crocheted or sewn together with the cast-on edge.

(It’s the asphalt outside the Lessebo railway station in Småland, Sweden, that you’re looking at here. Not very glamorous, but the yarn stands out quite well against the background, doesn’t it?)

The last stitch will be the first one in your new row — 90 degrees away, so to speak.

In Norwegian, there’s a very good knitting word, ”rilla”. It means every two rows when you’re making knit stitches only. Here you make one new stitch from every ”rilla”.

This means that you’ll have 43 stitches on your needle when you’re done — or another number if you tried the cuff on a thinner or broader wrist.

Knit 6 rows, or 8 if you like. Here you see what will become the visible side of the mitten, the one where the edge between the two parts is less visible.

Then it’s time to start increasing.

I’ve knitted a few different mittens back and forth (non-circular) before, and I’ve always made the thumb right at the middle of the piece. That’s symmetrical and looks good while one is still knitting, but I’ve found that when the mitten is finished and has a hand in it, the seam ends up being a bit too visible. This time I decided to push it just a little bit into the palm side.

Increase like this (the parenthesis is the other mitten, for your left hand), and adjust the idea to the number of stitches you have:

Increase row 1, from right side: knit 25 (18),  increase 1 (here are step-by-step photos of the method I use), knit 18 (25).

All rows from back side: knit all.

Second increase row, and all following increase rows: knit 25 (18), increase 1, knit the increased stitches, increase 1, knit 18 (25).

After a while it looks like this.

(The stones here are located outside the Hässleholm railway station in Skåne, Sweden, at the bus stop where the buses run when trains are cancelled. I stood there waiting for quite some time, so I decided that it was OK to unpack knitting and camera. No more strange than checking social media on one’s telephone, phoning home to say angry things about the railway company or smoking a cigarette, right?)

The increases are much less visible than when made in a ”flat” structure, but you can see the triangle shape here, can’t you?

When the thumb triangle is wide enough for you — 21 stitches were enough for me — you just cast off all the added stitches. Then you’re back to 43 stitches again (or as many as you made along the edge).

In the next row you knit the two stitches on either side of the thumb triangle together. Now you have 42 stitches left.

Knit back and forth with those stitches until you think the mitten reaches high enough on your hand. For me, 15 rows after casting off the thumb was good.

(Now you’re looking at a pavement in Southall, London, Britain! I was waiting for a bus on my way to an interview.)

Cast off all stitches except the last one. Make it loose!

Use the last stitche to crochet the sides together. Of course you could just as well sew them together. If you like, you could crochet from the right side, using a different colour — that would look nice! I crocheted from the back side using the same yarn.

And this is what the finished mitten looks like!

A closer look at the edge between the two ”directions”.

Maiking it slightly asymmetrical was a good idea, wasn’t it? The seam ends up in a good place, not too visible.

My niece thought the cuff was too long, so I tried knitting it 15 stitches wide as well.

Here you can see the difference.

And this is how they look without hands in them. They look better with hands in them, that’s clear, isn’t it?

I hope that somebody finds this pattern useful — at least I had fun challenging myself to make it! I had to stop myself several times when it was time for a photo and I was in a place where I couldn’t take it straight away.

If you do use the pattern and/or develop it further, feel free to send a photo!

Cardamom cake for Georgia

Av Posted on Inga taggar 0

Foto: Magnus Aronson

Foto: Magnus Aronson

I’ve met Georgia once or twice a year, sometimes three or four times, for the past, what, eight or ten years maybe? She is one of the international rights people at Lion Hudson, a British publishing house in Oxford which has been a close friend of Libris for a long, long time. I think Georgia started working there quite soon after I’d started at Libris. We have been looking at countless children’s Bibles, activity books and picture books through the years, and when the looking hasn’t resulted in Libris buying into a co-production, children around me have been very happy to have the sample copies.

A couple of weeks ago, Georgia came to Örebro with her suitcase full of books. I was on my way home, and I had to run to catch my train (which, it turned out, I could just as well have ignored — I ended up spending more than two hours waiting in Mjölby for the next one because of a fire somewhere near Stockholm, so I could have spent two more hours in the office had I known), but in the two minutes that we met, Georgia asked for ”Swedish cardamom cake”. Somebody had told her that this is an important part of Swedish cuisine.

I totally agree, even though I’ve never heard it being talked about like that before. Cardamom cake is essential.

But is there One Recipe for Swedish cardamom cake? I don’t know.

Here’s one of my favorites for you, Georgia. Enjoy! And do let me know what you think!

Swedish cardamom cake — Lenas körkaka

This cake is somewhere in between a traditional Swedish sockerkaka and Swedish vetebröd. It’s quite heavy, it crumbles easily — and it’s delicious and very easy to make. I got the recipe from Lena in Alvesta. She would make it for rehearsals with the Baroque choir that she sang with, and she would bake it in an old-fashioned iron frying pan which had a diameter of about 22 cm, but you can use a regular baking tin of about the same size.

Almost all the butter used in Sweden is salted, so if you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the batter.

Oven: 200° C, about 30 minutes

3 dl (180 g) wheat flour
1½ dl (125 g) sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1–2 tablespoons cardamom, ground or crushed
150 g butter
1½ dl Swedish sour milk, filmjölk — try yoghurt instead (unsweetened)

on top:
cinnamon
confectioner’s sugar

Prepare the pan with butter and breadcrumbs.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Chop the butter in pieces, add them to the bowl and use a regular fork to mash them and combine them with the flour etc. This should result in crumbles.

Add the sour milk and stir. The batter will be pretty soft and sticky.

Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake it low in the oven at 200 dregrees Celsius for about half an hour. When it’s done, let it rest in the pan for a couple of minutes, then move it to a wooden cuutting board. Let it cool down a bit (without covering it) and serve it from the cutting board.