Laura Ricketts Designs

"She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands..."

Laura Ricketts Designs is a personal and business website for Laura Ricketts, hand-knitwear designer, author, teacher, crafter, mother and wife.

A beautiful day in Alta, Norway

** This post describes a trip to Scandinavia which I took in September 2013. **

I awoke Wednesday in Karasjok to fog.  I was quite surprised, as I had read about how this interior, far north of Norway was desert-like.  Karasjok is on a river, though, and the cool morning regularly produces fog.  

I waited awhile.  I made herbal tea and looked through the fantastic books I had checked out of the parliament library, since I am a proud, card-carrying member (at least of the library). Fantastic books, fantastic pictures.  The absolute best find was a picture of the woman responsible for a whole branch of Sámi mittens.

At about 10, I gave up on the fog lifting, packed up the car and headed out of town toward Alta, Norway.  Norway, with its fjords, does not have many direct roads.  The bays, mountains, and rivers force one to drive in seemingly indirect routes.  Today was no different.  In order to drive NW to Alta, I had to drive SW, almost all the way to Kautokeino, which is quite inland.  Then, after I crossed the Alta river, I took a sharp right and followed the river to the Alta fjord and the city of Alta.

Both the town and fjord are gorgeous. Alta is known as the "City of Northern Lights," and, happily, I did get to see my first northern lights EVER in Alta.

Welcome to Alta!

Welcome to Alta!

Alta is the northernmost city in the world with over 10,000 inhabitants.  It has a cathedral for the area, and a university. It also is world famous for its ancient rock carvings.  Discovered in the late 1970s, archeologists have uncovered thousands of rock art dating back to 4000BC. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The museum stands near the majority of the rock carvings.

Alta Museum in Alta, Norway

Alta Museum in Alta, Norway

My appointment was with the previous director, Hans Christian Søberg, a delightful man, and another well-spring of information on his region.  I settled into a workroom in the lower level of the new wing, and started in photographing the absolutely fabulous mitten collection donated by Anny Haugen.

This was my view out the window:


And, these were my companions:


These were my subjects.  Sigh!


Aren't they delightful?

Anny Haugen was a Sámi lady and duodji (handcraft) expert.  She started the first duodji school in Finnmark, there in Alta in the 50s, I believe.  She collected not just mittens, but handcrafts of all kinds: the soft handcrafts of textiles and skin, and the hard handcrafts of wood and bone. 

She moved her duodji school to Lakselv, I think it was, a town not far away, but toward the end of her life, came back to the Altafjord region. Before she died, she collected her craftsman knowledge into a book, recently republished.  Although I heard stories from Hans Christian that the book needed much editing before its publication, it still is a foundational book for the duodji, and used much today.  Of the eleven northern museums I visited, I believe it was for sale in almost all of them.  I saw it as well in almost all the northern duodji shops, not only for sale, but used and respected.

The collection of Anny Haugen's handcrafts was divided between the Karasjok museum and the Alta museum, but Alta has all of her mittens.  These are my favorite, I believe: a pair of bridal mittens:

bridal mittens  Anny Haugen collection, Alta museum

bridal mittens

Anny Haugen collection, Alta museum

After my photoshoot, I went and had lunch with Hans Christian and learned much about the area, especially the rock carvings, churches and WWII history.  Then, I borrowed the audio tour and walked among the rock carvings myself.

rock carvings  Alta, Norway

rock carvings

Alta, Norway

The rock carvings did not originally have the red paint.  The red paint is really more associated with cave art.  However, the images are hard to see without the added color.  In recent years, the archeologists have NOT added the color, as there is concern the carvings might be adversely effected by the paint.

I also toodled downtown and stopped to see the old cathedral and the new.

Old cathedral of Alta, Norway

Old cathedral of Alta, Norway

New Northern Lights Cathedral, Alta, Norway

New Northern Lights Cathedral, Alta, Norway

I also drove around the fjord and visited other churches with fabulous scenery, but there is only so many pictures I can post before I crash my post!  I will, however, close with pictures from the beautiful, beautiful yarn store I visited in Alta, that the head of the Finnmark husflid told me is the best yarn store in Norway!  I believe her!

One wall...

One wall...

the center

the center


I could be perfectly happy in that chair, I think, for many, many hours...

And, so, a belated Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans!  I hope your day was happy, filling and relaxing, that you enjoyed friends and family and thanked God for all your blessings this year.