My Material Life

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like An Arne & Carlos Christmas

Guys – I’m back! You didn’t think I’d remain silent during the most enchanted season of any Christmas-celebrating person who enjoys making things’ year, did you? Why don’t we begin with some Arne & Carlos thrills? You do know Arne & Carlos, right? The Norwegian knitwear designers famous for their Christmas balls? Well that’s how I first discovered them anyway. My friend Susan and I went to see them do a talk about their business and various other things like what Norwegians like to watch on TV and such back in October. While I was there I purchased their book, Arne & Carlos, Favorite Designs. You can see a glimpse of it in the photo below that I took after my poor husband was complaining about there being no place for him to sit down and set his plate down in this house yesterday. You know how it gets, right?

That’s them on their book right up there on top of the coffee cup. Oh my goodness. If you are an Arne and Carlos fan or you want to broaden your knitting skills with some stranded color work or you want some new projects or inspiration, something new to do in January, please, please do yourself a favor and get this book. It is so full of all the Arne and Carlos classics – the Christmas balls, the Easter eggs, the birds, the dolls you never knew you wanted to knit – but also the socks, the felted slippers, the most beautiful dog sweater and human sweaters, hand warmers, sweaters, scarves … I can’t believe it’s all in one book!

But sitting there that evening at the lecture and flipping through my new treasure of woolly Norwegian wonders, I found myself captivated with one single project that I knew I would set out to conquer immediately. Which was a good thing because it took me a looong time to get it right.

What is this thing? And it is only one thing, not two …

it’s a coaster! Not just any coaster – a double knit coaster!

A bit of a magical project. You cast on with two different colors and actually knit two sides on the same needle so what you see on one side is the reverse of the other. Honestly, I didn’t think I wanted to use wool for these, but I had some old Baby Ull fingering weight yarn from Norway (sadly no longer distributed in the U.S.) that I’ve used for Christmas balls in the past so I thought I’d use some colors inspired by two newish Marimekko mugs and an old Christmas mug of Samantha’s. Wouldn’t you like one of these on your nightstand?

These coasters have a amazing tactile quality; they feel so good in your hand. I see a lot of possibility with this double knitting thing and you can bet I’ll be back soon to share what I’ve learned about it with you. No, really!

The Christmas balls I’m showing I actually knit several years ago. I finally stuffed and finished them this year. I believe the one shown at the top of this post is the “Xs and Os” from the Christmas balls book and the one below is the Greek cross. When I first knit them I tried to stuff them with some kind of poly fiberfill, but that just looks and feels wrong. At some point last year I finally ordered some wool stuffing and it really makes a difference.

One of the things that sold me on the Christmas balls in the first place was the genius of embellishing them with flat back crystals. Do you see the little bit of sparkle on the cross below? I have some little red Swarovski crystals that I might use on the other ball. Wool and crystal together is a juxtaposition that just works some how. These balls are super fun to knit and not as difficult as you might think. An excellent introduction to stranded color work. And the new book includes some smaller balls that Arne and Carlos designed for the Japanese market (smaller ornaments for smaller trees).

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