Friday, June 15, 2007

North To Knit In The Birch Woods

We went away for a few days.

We flew north. We slept a few hours in an airport and woke to fly even further north.


We took a car and drove.



By birch forests where the silvery white of the trunks contrasted with the vivid fresh green of the fluttering leaves.





By vast and silent lakes where cranberries and bilberries were growing thickly on the shore.

We came at last to the quietest lane of all, leading down through the woods to the quietest lake of all.


Can you guess where we were? Who lives there? Here is a clue.





This dog is called Tina.





And we had found Lene. Lene of Dances With Wool.

This meeting is something I have wanted for a long time. I didn't think it would be possible. But then, almost as if they knew and sympathised, Finnair opened a flight from Dublin to Helsinki which made it all suddenly feasible. It took some organising to ensure that one flight linked with another, but we made it. And at last Lene and I could talk, laugh together, show each other our knitting projects, exchange ideas and confidences.






Here we are, sitting on the porch, giggling like a couple of schoolgirls.

We had such a happy time together, I wish it could have been longer. All too soon Richard and I had to get into the car, drive, get to airports, head back to our own world. But I will return to Lene's world in the autumn. I will! I want to sit there again and talk about our passion for crafts (and the inexplicable reason why a project can be the love of our life one day and thrown underneath the table the next!) And I hope she will come to visit me in Ireland too. When we parted, she gave me some skeins of genuine Finnish wool in natural colours. I will make a shawl to remind me of our happy time.

Finland, and especially Lapland, is utterly beautiful. Richard found so many things to photograph and I was entranced with the scent of fresh wood everywhere, the clear cool air (mercifully it was not too hot, so the mosquitoes were not too troublesome), the endless skyscapes. It was strange to wake in the middle of the night and see the sun still shining brightly. I know it would be very odd in the middle of winter too, when there is no daylight, but I would like to experience that as well. I want to know it the way Lene does, see it with her eyes.






What do you think of this? It was in the Santa Claus Centre, right on the line where you cross into the Arctic Circle. A comfortable rocking chair, a big circular needle and a huge roll of knitting already done by friendly visitors. I sat down and added my row.






Of course I had to prove that I had been to the Arctic Circle as well, by working on Pomotamus right by the sign. This is a lovely pattern, a sheer delight to work, and I will probably start another pair as soon as I've finished this one. Lene was right, the pattern, although it appears unbelievably complicated, is very easy to memorise. Working on the foot now, though, which may prove more of a challenge.

And to add icing to the cake of Lapland, I even found a little shop selling traditional crafts, which had a whole wall of YARN! Not just yarn either, but handspun local yarn.




Found some beautiful thick soft grey wool and got enough for a vest. Then couldn't resist some fine sockweight in a natural soft grey, a lighter shade than the thick wool. Tucked them carefully in with Lene's gift skeins and brought them all home in triumph. Even managed to track down some reindeer horn buttons to use on the vest. Will post pictures when I start it (oh, does this count as starting a new project? Maybe if one regarded it as healthy activities pursued during a trip it wouldn't...)

A wonderful, happy, so special few days. Treasured for always in my heart. Lene, thank you for making us so welcome. Kiitos.

27 comments:

Stephanie said...

Wow!! Lucky lucky you! I hope you do get to go back because I want to see more photos! :)

gwtreece said...

Totally jealous. You got to meet Lene.

pacalaga said...

[jealous]
That doesn't looklike a Pomatomus. Am I nuts?
I hope you gave Tina a kiss on the nose for me.

Lene said...

Kiitos to you Jo!

Denise said...

Oh, Jo, how wonderful that you got to meet Lene in person!

You're so lucky! I've only gotten to meet her knitting in person (her beautiful, perfect knitting - it was lovely but not the same as meeting the maker herself!)

Hope you and Richard are well - we miss you both!

Elizabeth Cissi said...

What a wonderful opportunity! You can get a real sense of who and what a person is by blogging, but to meet in person must be the ultimate confirmation of friendship.

shandy said...

I too am very envious of your trip. You've been to some really amazing places already this year, but to actually meet Lene rather than just reading about their work - amazing.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Jo - I am so happy for both you and Lene. I know how much it meant to meet you in person, and I know Lene must have felt the same.
I think you can knit with yarn that has been given to you and not violate any rules - rules, why do we need them when it comes to knitting things we want and love!

SheepsPyjamas said...

How strange it feels to read about someone I know only through a blog through the eyes of someone else I know only online! Lucky you -- that's quite a treasure of a visit (and the yarn trophies look pretty luscious too!)...

Tan said...

I'm so happy to see Lene, so now I have a face to go with her wonderful blogging voice. But you didn't stay until midnight, did you?

Tan said...

I re-read your post and see that you DID stay for the midnight sun. Good girl!

LaurieM said...

The pair of you look like impish twins. Are you certain you weren't separated at birth?

Rachel said...

That looks like the most fun vacation, ever! I love the photographs of the scenery, and you look so cute knitting on the santa claus scarf! Glad you had such a wonderful time!

anne said...

what a great trip! you lucky ducky; so many times i have wished i could stand on the edge of lene's lake! thank you for sharing it!

Kathleen C. said...

I just wanted to say how *very* pleased I am to have found your blog through Lene's link.
I have read back through some of your archives (I've got still more to go) and I love your writing style and sense of humour. And the photos... Oh my! Just stunning!
I am truly looking forward to more and more.
Thank you.

Fiberjoy said...

What a delightful post! How thrilling that you were able to hang out with Lene. You look like unseperable sisters. I'm tickled all the way to my toes that you went north, and north and furture north until you got to the lake at the end of the lane. :-)

Robin said...

Enjoyed my visit to your blog. What a wonderful post! Sounds like you met a soul sister. Funny how we can meet a stranger who shares our passion and we become instant best friends! That big ball of knitting -- what a neat idea.

HPNY Knits said...

I just found your blog from Lene- how delightful. I enjoyed reading some of your past trips as well.

Charity said...

Oh, Jo, how lovely for you both! :0)

Judy G. said...

It sounds like a wonderful visit. I look forward to more when you go back in the fall.

vicki said...

How wonderful for you! I hope you get back there soon. It looked beautiful. I am on the other side of the world and it made me want to catch a plane to see such a beautiful place.

domestic shorthair said...

What wonderful fun!

Bells said...

oh I loved reading this. It's exactly the sort of trip I'd love to do. A bit far from Australia to Finland though!

Beautiful photos. You look so happy to be with Lene.

Dez Crawford said...

You got to meet Lene! And her dogs! I am so jealous. But also happy for you. There is nothing quite like finally meeting an online friend in person, and smelling the woods and lake you normally see pictures of.

Dream vacation, that. Further and further and further north. Love the giant scarf, too.

roggey said...

How cool is that big ol' ball of knitting?! You post the grooviest photos, woman =)

Angeluna said...

Beautiful post. From the photos, it looks as though Lene's part of the world is very quiet. I hope that is true. I wonder if Lene realizes how very "famous" she is with us knitters.

That whopping huge roll of knitting at Santa's Village is wonderful.

Absolutely love Jo knitting everywhere. Now we have the Arctic Circle. We've had deserts and lakes and forests and islands. Have we knitted at the Equator? And is there such a thing as the AntArctic Circle?

Janet said...

what fun for 2 cyperspace friends to meet in person.