You probably don’t know her, but Cindy Wasner has sent you a gift. It’s a Norwegian mitten design and you can download the pattern for free here, or pick up a copy in the yarn department at Ingebretsen’s, compliments of Wasner.
Her Shield of Norway design is a lot of things in a little package: an anniversary commemoration, a travel souvenir, and a sign of how much Wasner, a retired nurse and former yarn shop owner living in Oregon, loves to teach and share the craft of knitting.
“I thought it was a good pattern for people to learn on, and it was kind of fun to celebrate the Norwegian constitution,” Wasner says about the design that she offered to Ingebretsen’s. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution, which was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814. The mittens’ heraldic lion and battle axe are about as Norwegian a symbol as there is, representing the country’s government and royal house since at least the year 1280.
Wasner says she saw Norway’s red shield and gold lion everywhere on public buildings during a trip there in 2012. “I really noticed it up at Holmenkollen, you know where the big ski jump is up above Oslo? I could get up close to the shield there, and I was really looking at it and taking pictures.” She designed the mittens on the fly as she was traveling. “I had the red and white yarn and I bought a ball of the gold at the Husfliden in Oslo and started knitting the mittens.”
If knitting with more than one color looks daunting, Wasner, who’s a knitting instructor at the Butterfly Yarn Shop in Redmond, Oregon, and owner of her own business, Norsk Needlework, has more help and encouragement for you. Her pattern called Cap for a Lesson in Stranded Knitting is a primer in two-color knitting, and it’s a free download on the crafting website Ravelry.
“I have a whole lot of secrets and tips for knitting with two colors in that, because I made it for my class,” she says. Knitters who want to ramp up to the Shield of Norway mittens can try the cap pattern and tutorial first. There are also lots of quick video tutorials on YouTube. Here’s a good three-and-a-half-minute video showing you two methods of doing colorwork. A YouTube search for “two-color knitting” will bring up many other videos you can choose from.
As for yarn, Wasner says the mitten pattern “really comes out better if you use Rauma Finullgarn because I write specifically for it, and it’s not like any American yarn….Finull is in a little class by itself.”
Diane Thomson, a mitten expert and one of Ingebretsen’s knitting instructors, is just wrapping up a class on mitten techniques, and says once you start making colorwork mittens, you might find it hard to stop. You’ll want to keep seeing how the pattern unfolds as you knit one round and then the next, she says. See a gorgeous display of Thomson’s mittens and caps—Norwegian, Latvian, and more—in Ingebretsen’s classroom space through the end of April.