Friday, 16 January 2015

Knitting Nordic Mittens with Finnsheep Yarn

Giving may be a joy, but few pleasures can compete with getting a present which is exactly what you wanted. My littlest brother found out from my Mum how much I admire Riihivilla's blog and her mitten kits and ordered one for me for Christmas, all the way from Finnland.  

"This yarn is spun fron Finnsheep fleece, Elinor. One day, I'd love to go to Helsinki and visit Riihivilla's stall in the Kaupattori Market.  I expect you've been to Finnland and met some Finnsheep, have you?"   I was rolling up the two skeins into balls, while my companion examined my new 3mm short circular needle.
"Can't wait to see how your big sausage fingers are going to manage knitting with this tiny thing.  No, I've not been to Finnland, though I've seen the rushes of a lovely young Finnsheep being filmed on location there for 'The Girl with the Sheep Tattoo'. Pretty name, Fiia it was.  Pretty thing, too, white as snow with a classic profile.  I can see how she caught the director's eye."
"What part is she playing?"
"Well, you know the basic plot, the Girl and the Midnight Shearer, stealing fleeces to order for a cartel of wealthy spinners?"
"Ye-es... and?"
"Fiia is spotted by The Girl.  Only a small role, but she gets a marvellous shearing scene.  Straying a little apart from the flock as evening falls, background music - The Swan of Tuonela, so atmospheric."  Elinor sighed, rested her elbow on the Finnsheep wool and finally, stopped titting about with my 3mm needle.

Riihivilla's Aarni Yarn is delightfully soft.  My kit had one skein each of two contrasting natural shades of brown.  Leena uses plant dyes to achieve a great range of colours, which are also on sale.  The mitten pattern is quite different to the Fair Isle ones I made recently, the cuffs are lined and the thumbs have a proper gusset, rather than being set in on a simple line of stitches.  It was a fiddle, getting used to manipulating the little circular needle, but once I got the hang of it, progress round and round was much quicker than when pulling through a longer cord.  It definitely increased the tension in my knitting though. The pattern for the spruce tree on the front of the mittens is different on every line.  This seemed daunting, but as long as I kept close tabs on the chart, the knitting went fine.
"So, when are you going to be filmed getting your fleece shorn? Will it be on location in Sweden?"  The room temperature went down a few degrees. I froze in the blast of Elinor's arctic glare.
"Type casting wrecks careers."
"Ooo, sorry, I just assumed, with your lovely Gotland fleece and all ..."  To my relief, she thawed.
"Nude scenes are best left to the shearlings, Beaut.  I'm more your character actress, playing the barmaid at the 'Gyllene Skinnet', near the fjord where The Girl moors her smuggling boat.  We'll be filming my big scene soon, when customs officials turn up looking for Captain Crovect and I have to distract them while he slips away on the tide."
"Well, I'd be gobsmacked to see you wiping tables and pulling pints.  How about a bit of method acting?  You can do the washing up."
"You know I can't have my hooves in water.  I'll get foot rot."
"Come on, Leading Lady.  First call for Miss Gotland.  Let me show you where I keep the rubber gloves."


  1. Fran, your writing is, as ever, wonderful. Of course Elinor can not have her hooves in water. The very idea!


  2. "Hi Jaki. You never spoke a truer word. That Fran has no idea. She'd never make it in show biz. Sausage fingers, dishpan hands and no skin on her knuckles from stripping out an old box seat yesterday. She's in the garden now and not a pair of gloves in sight. Shocking."

  3. Heavens! I do hope those sausages have no... um.... you know.. er.... sheeplike products in them.


  4. Fabulous mitts fran. I had a quick look at Riihivillas store, I'm tempted to try some of the mushrooms (for dyeing - of course) as the colours are beaut!

    Susan. (Pembs).

    1. I've had my eye on those. Not a great weight to post, either. If you go for it, do tell me how you get on.