Monday, June 29, 2015

Sun Valley Fibers high twist

At Minnesota's Yarn Over event I had a great time catching up with the wonderful Jeanette of Sun Valley Fibers. She brought a new base with her: high twist merino/nylon fingering and super high twist merino/nylon fingering. I bought a skein of each: Pumpkin Patch and Gone Fishin'. Pumpkin Patch is a lovely mix of deep orange-yellow with variegations of lighter yellow, cream, and green. It resonated well with my summer obsession of gardening! Gone Fishin' is a medium blue, deep bottle green, and green-yellow.

I knew that I wanted to knit up some socks with the super high twist Gone Fishin'… but the Pumpkin Patch was more difficult. It's variegated --- and although I'm not overly fussy about color pooling, I still wanted the final product to mirror the beauty of the color way in the skein. I searched Ravelry and found the Multnomah shoulderette by Kate Ray. It was perfect --- plenty of garter stitch through the main body to accentuate the variegation and just a bit of simple lace work at the bottom to keep my interest in knitting and add to the complexity of the finished piece. Like I've said, I love variegated yarn, but I always keep a guideline of an equal distribution of lacey holes and garter stitch / bias / etc to avoid losing both the pattern and the yarn in the finished object.

I love it! It's a really quick knit and handles variegated yarn so well. I definitely recommend the pattern and the yarn.

For the SUPER high twist yarn, I was looking for a sock with some needed stitch definition. Cables would be nice for super high twist, so that they really pop when they're blocked. With variegated yarn, I like thick and heavy cables to break up any pooling that might be happening in the rest of the stockinette and to add some texture to the piece to draw attention away from any weirdness happening with the color scheme… but heavy cables on socks? No, thanks. I've had the skyp rib sock pattern by Adrienne Ku in my queue for a while and the pattern forms kind of a mock-cable along the leg and insole of the sock. Success again! The variegation actually formed a striping effect given my stitch count and tension --- so it might not look like that every time. The super high twist added to the stitch definition which really made the patterning compete well with the coloring AND they plumped up nicely with blocking. I'm really pleased with my new socks!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Kongsberg, Update

As a genealogist, I have long enjoyed using for family history research. In my previous post about the abandoned Kongsberg Church cemetery in Trempeleau County, Wisconsin, I wrote about the diphtheria deaths among the children in the congregation. I was able to preserve their stones by uploading them onto findagrave. Someone had already uploaded the names and dates, so uploading the photos was simple enough. As I deciphered the engravings on my photographs and matched them with the online names and dates, I realized that a lone stone propped against a tree was left over.

In a close-up, it's only partially legible. Part of the name and the dates. The clearest etching in the stone are the parents names Iver and Emma.

The stone is puzzling, because all of the others are written in Norwegian while this one is in English. The parents' last name was also a puzzle. I could make out Johnson, but it looked as though the surname continued. Was it hyphenated? That's strange for a nineteenth century tombstone in rural Wisconsin. Was the surname a longer form of Johnson? That also didn't seem plausible.

I needed to find out more about Iver and Emma. I came across quite a bit about Iver Johnson. He immigrated to Wisconsin from Hafslo, Norway --- Hafslo no longer exists as a place name, but was in Sogn og Fjordane county in western Norway. Emma's name was actually Ingeborg, but she changed it to Emma when she arrived in America. 

Here's the interesting bit --- at least for me, a lover of language, family history, and hyphenated Americans. As Iver was from Scandinavia he had a patronymic --- a surname to show kinship to his father: ____-sen (for son) or ____-datter (for daughter). He was son of Jan, so his patronymic was Jansen. His father Jan's was Halvorson (Halvor would be Iver's grandfather). So Jansen is where the Americanized "Johnson" comes from. Patronymics are falling out of favor in Norway. Most now are either frozen in families, or taken from geographical landmarks. It seems Iver had an additional surname "Veum" --- in fact, there's an old Veum School near the abandoned cemetery. Both his Americanized patronymic Johnson and his surname Veum are recorded on the stone. It's a wonderful mixture of American and Norwegian culture.

Iver and Emma married in February 1885. In December of that year, their first child, a son, was born. I believe his name was John Herman. It's interesting that Iver didn't continue his Norwegian patronymic naming custom for his first born son in America. It must have been an poignant moment and new beginning for the couple --- a new birth in a new country. Sadly, the son died shortly thereafter and was buried in the Kongsberg Cemetery. They had three more children.

Emma died in 1893. Iver remarried to Theodora Chistopherson. She was a bit of local legend as her mother was pregnant while making the sea voyage to America. Theodora was actually born aboard the immigrant ship Mercator somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean in 1870. Iver and Theodora had four children.

I felt as if the young child of Iver and Emma has been saved from forgotten history. While his stone remains --- I'm certain with time the cemetery will be swallowed up by the surrounding woodland --- I hope that I've documented his existence and preserved a memory of the often painful pioneer experience on the Wisconsin frontier.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Seedlings: All grown up

I remember one spring when I was maybe 10 or 11 and my parents were cleaning out an old cupboard in the basement. Inside were many forgotten implements: old kitchen utensils, bowls, canning jars, etc. My mother held a handful of seed packets ready to throw them away. I protested… I wanted to plant them and start my own garden. She replied that the seeds were too old and nothing would grow. My stubbornness got the better of me and took them, carefully read the entire packet and sowed them outside next to my mother's raspberry bush. A carrot sprouted… but in my impatience I pulled it too soon and daintily bit at a one inch root. Since then, I've never lost my love of plants, but I've never ventured to plant seeds again until this year. I decided to start all of my balcony flowers from seed in the early spring --- especially given a Wisconsin winter, I needed to touch soil and see some green. I must admit feeling a bit paternal over the marigolds that sprouted. They're my favorites. They keep away the mosquitoes, they're easy to grow, and they have the most vibrant shades of orange. I had so many by late spring that I planted the rest around the border of my community garden vegetable allotment.