“I travel not to escape life…

IMG_4115.jpg…but so that life does not escape me.”  Someone much wiser than me expressed those sentiments.  I share her philosophy; I travel so that I can continue to thrive.  And if there happens to be a knitting festival in the area – that’s a bonus!

Fanø, a small Danish island in the North Sea, is an easy train journey from Copenhagen. Riding the 15-minute ferry over from Esbjerg, I could see why the island attracts so many vacationers from Germany and Denmark who rent homes along the sandy stretch of beach along the west coast.  Although seals, sea otters, and migratory birds draw nature lovers to the island; during one woolfull weekend in September, over 12,000 knitters descend on the World Heritage site to learn new skills and peruse all things fiber related.IMG_4120.jpg

Christel Seyfarth, a fiber artist born on the island, is the brains behind the Fanø wool festival.  Her bright shop hums with the whirling winders that skein up colorful cones of fibers destined for the beautiful knitting kits and garments sold in the store.  If you’re a Fair Isle knitter, you will be overcome with inspiration (and temptation) in her boutique.

While our non-knitter companions took advantage of the island’s other attraction,

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we knitters focused on touching new fibers, trying on samples and chatting with friendly vendors.

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I was really excited to see that Nordiske Masker was there.  I first met them several years ago at the  Faroe Island Knitting Festival.   At that festival, I fell in love with their asymmetrical motorcycle jacket finished with copper zippers and, even though I do not speak or understand Danish, I purchased a kit.  I figured google translate would come to my rescue.  Fortunately, the wonderful Ravelry community of Danish-speaking knitters helped me tremendously and I managed to knit the jacket.  Although I finished my jacket without the additional attachments, whenever I wear it, people ask me where I purchased it.  After I answer “I made it.” I enjoy seeing the look of surprise on their faces. All knitters or artisans who create with their hands can probably relate to how great it feels to say that.

IMG_4080.jpgIn Fanø, I noticed that Nordiske Masker’s kits are still only available in Danish, but even if you do not understand Danish, I highly recommend their kits.  Beautiful designs and luxurious natural fibers await you.  One of my friends purchased the same jacket kit I knitted.  She needs me to help her with hers; I hope I can find my old notes and recall what I did.  Although I wanted to purchase one of their new tunic kits, I found the small size a tad too big for me.  If I were a more advanced knitter, I could probably decrease the size, but the thought of modifying a pattern that is already in a foreign language requires more effort than I was willing to commit.  I wish more designers would consider the smaller-sized knitters when they write patterns only in small, medium and large.  This seems to be the norm with Scandinavian designs, but we knitters do not all fit into just one of three generic sizes.

The vendor that attracted me the most and to whom I returned each day was g-uld, a Danish plant-based hand dyer.  You can see some of their natural colors below. I think the woman’s sweater may have been knitted with their yarn. Doesn’t her sweater seem to match the skeins on the middle shelf?

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I made my own kits for several of their shawls (the green-gold color was screaming my name).  Chatting with one of their friendly helpers whilst paying for my purchases, I learned that G-uld will be participating in the Oslo Knitting Festival in October. Hmmm…I wonder what my schedule looks like in October…Could I finish this shawl by then?

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What I enjoy about traveling to knitting festivals, aside from the obvious “yarn porn”, is the opportunity to connect with other fiber folks and to share our passion for all things fiber related.  Whether it’s chatting with a Danish gentleman from Roskilde who sold me some beautiful Japanese bamboo knitting needles (not that I need more knitting needles) or chatting with Di Gilpin about her soft Scottish lambswool or her cute Coda hat, which I plan to knit, there’s always plenty of incredible inspiration, oodles of ooh-ing and ahhing, and something new to learn.

On this trip, I learned that all Danes speak perfect English, even if they confess that they don’t (however, I wish more Danish designers would translate their patterns into English). They knit with beautiful, natural fibers rather than the ubiquitous ‘superwash’ (acid-killed) yarns that knitters in other lands prefer.  The Danish designers sell their patterns in kits or books rather than on Ravelry or as single patterns.  And the Danes seem to love David Hasselhoff.  Another knitter? Am I the only person who didn’t know this?

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