Laura Ricketts Designs

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

Filtering by Tag: Sámi mitten knitting

The Samisiida, the Finnish Sámi Museum, and Sajos, the Sámi Parliament

Friday morning dawned bright and early. Eeva went for a swim in the lake (brrr!). I opted for a more comfortable warm shower.  

We're here!   

We're here!

 

The view at the hostel

The view at the hostel

At 8am I was at the Samisiida museum with curator Aile Aikio. What a wonderful time! She and I had emailed quite a bit over a year ago, and I was quite looking forward to meeting her. Every once in awhile you meet someone who has the right job, enjoys it and excels at it. Aile is such a person. She has a finger on the pulse of the Inari community.  She interviews elderly in senior centers; she collects stories; she collects materials.  As a result, she has so much information about so many aspects of the Sámi life. One undesirable effect of this knowledge is "ethno-stress" -- the stress of knowing all the history and "right" ways to do things. Does the life of Sámi culture depend on them? Sometimes it feels so.  It can be a heavy weight to bear.

Happily, one area she knows much about are Sámi mittens from her area. Before I talk mittens, however, let me educate you about the Sámi in Finland. The museum had exhibits on both of the following sub-groups and had mittens from both as well.

The Sámi peoples have about 9 subgroups. Most of these subgroups have a wide land area. Only one of these sub-groups is within one country only, and that is the Inari Sámi.  They are found within Finland, around Lake Inari. They herd reindeer near the lake and enjoy other lake activities. Their national costume has green in it, not common with most other sub-groups.  Likewise, their mittens often have green.

The other Sámi sub-group mostly found within Finland, the Skolt Sámi, have their original homeland divided between Norway, Finland and Russia.  Approximately half of it is in Russia. Around 1935, they were instructed by the Russian government that the borders were closing: get out or stay. Most left, but were allowed back in a year later. 

In 1947, they were told again: get out or stay. Most left to Finland.  They have never been allowed back in. The majority of those who remained in Russia were collectivized and moved to the town of Lovozero.  Their reindeer were seized and collectivized as well. Much of their culture was destroyed. Less than 2,000 Skolt Sámi remain in Russia.

Of those that remained in Finland, many settled in Sevettijarvi, north of Lake Inari. You must understand, that the Skolt Sámi living in Russia for 100s of years were influenced by the Russian majority.  Many have Russian last names, wear Russian influenced outfits, and are Russian orthodox by faith. They, however, are not Russian. 

As a generality, Finns hate Russians.  The Finns have had bitter conflicts and many wars with their giant, overbearing neighbor to the East. Russia has so many people and so many resources compared to this small neighbor, so naturally, they almost always won. So, when Russian speaking Skolt Sámi fled to Finland, the Finns didn't exactly greet them with open arms. When Skolt Sámi moved near lake Inari, the Inari Sámi weren't exactly thrilled either. The Sámi peoples have been discriminated against by their majority cultures for over 100 years. Now the discrimination was within their community. As a result, the Skolt Sámi were treated as the lowest of the low.

Their culture is fascinating, though. Sevettijarvi has a beautiful small orthodox church, reindeer, lakes and birch trees.  The traditional women's costume includes the old horn hat, long skirts and shawls. The men wear Western dress and were the first of the Sámi peoples to drop traditional clothing. The women stopped wearing the reindeer skin leggings, and so became the only Sámi people to wear knit socks in the traditional costume. 

The Skolt Sámi have distinctive mittens.  Most of them are plain on the hand and patterned only on the cuff.  The patterning is every other stitch, with the stitch inbetween in the base color. Many of the patterns have names, as well: ptarmigan's foot, boat's bow, and netting. As you may guess, fishing and bird trapping are a part of everyday life.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the museum.  Here are some pictures of the parliament building just around the corner.  I've read somewhere that it is shaped like a reindeer bone.

The Finnish Sami Parliament in Inari, Finland

The Finnish Sami Parliament in Inari, Finland

IMG_6373.jpg

Inside is a rather nice handcrafts shop with books, shawls, jewelry, CDs and knitting. 

Skolt socks

Skolt socks

Finnish mittens, River Sámi mittens, Inari mittens, and Swedish Lovikka mittens

Finnish mittens, River Sámi mittens, Inari mittens, and Swedish Lovikka mittens

We filled up on diesel, visited a small grocery and bought some food for the following days in Norway. I bought an "Angry Birds" candy for my eldest (Angry birds is one of Finland's biggest exports these days!).  Then, we loaded up and headed for the border. 

Tomorrow: Norway! 

Finnfest 2013

A week ago the kids and I returned from Finnfest 2013, held this year in Houghton, Michigan on the Keewanau peninsula of the Upper Peninsula. Finnfest is an annual gathering of Finnish nationals, expats, immigrants and those with Finnish interests. It takes place in a different place every year and has been ongoing for 30 years. This is the first year Houghton hosted, although it has met at Hancock just across the river years ago. That very northwest corner of Michigan has one of the highest concentrations of Finns outside of the Nordic lands. Many came to the States just after 1900 with the copper mining boom.

Transient

We drove the whole way, up through Chicago and Wisconsin, entering this beautiful area of Northern Michigan right around dinner time on the 19th of June. On the way up we passed over a country road named, "Rosencranz."

Sure, enough, the next town was Denmark. Seemed like a perfect place to pull over. The woman who helped us in the tourist shop did not know that Hamlet took place in Denmark.  Hmmm... Something is rotten about that!

 

Welcome to Denmark!

Welcome to Denmark!

Welcome to Michigan. I guess it's more pure up North.

Welcome to Michigan. I guess it's more pure up North.

The bay near L'Anse, Michigan, and Lake Superior beyond

The bay near L'Anse, Michigan, and Lake Superior beyond

Dorm, Sweet Dorm

Dorm, Sweet Dorm

Houghton, Michigan is home to Michigan Tech University. In fact, that is where the majority of classes, talks, and concerts were held.  We pulled in and made ourselves at home in two dorm rooms.  The eldest was tuckered out and went to bed, while we three lively ones went to the opening ceremonies in the main auditorium.  The Secretary of State of Denmark was one of the principal speakers, as well as scores of musical groups, dancers and singers.

All week, we enjoyed Finnish classes, lectures on Finland, The Sámi, Laestidus and Finnish Lutheranism. We even did fun things like hanging out with the Moomins!  These puffy, white hippopotamus-looking things reminded me of Lil' Abners Shmoos.

 

kiddos and the Moomins -- Finnish trolls, of sorts

kiddos and the Moomins -- Finnish trolls, of sorts

Can't resist a Moomin!

Can't resist a Moomin!

All this time, I also did demonstrations with a group of crafters in a side gym. There were Finnish rag rug makers, spinners, wood carvers, and woolen quilts.  Quite fun!  I set up a couple tables with knitted examples, books, and pictures, then proceeded to spindle and knit, talking to the people who passed by. My uncle Charlie was persuaded to pull out his birch bark and weave some baskets, rings, and knife holsters as well.

One of the highlights of the time was being able to hear the Sápmi choir of Sámi singers from all across the Sámi homeland: the Northern parts of Norway, Finland and Sweden.  I was able to meet some of the singers and the people associated with them.

All these connections are helpful, as I am planning a trip to Sápmi this September. 

On other, non-knitting related topics, the four of us also competed in a Guiness Book of World Records' attempt at the most people completing a (3km) Nordic Walk.  I don't believe the numbers that turned out will beat the existing record held by the Swedes, however. Earlier, we also stopped and paid tribute to George Gipp.  He is best known as Notre Dame's star football player and first All-american. He played for coach Knute Rockne, and was made famous by the phrase, "Win one for the Gipper!" 

Four non-Nordic folk, ready to walk like a Norwegian...

Four non-Nordic folk, ready to walk like a Norwegian...

George Gipp died from a combination of pneumonia and strep in 1920.

George Gipp died from a combination of pneumonia and strep in 1920.

All in all, it was a wonderful time -- very busy, and a tiring drive -- but worth it to see and celebrate the wonderful Finnish culture. 

Math4Knitters Podcast

Today the podcast I recorded with Math4Knitters podcaster Lara Neel went live. You can find the link to the audio here along with the show notes.

It was a very pleasant chat, and, while I knew she was from Oklahoma, I didn't know it was right near where my husband grew up! He had almost even attended the same high school she went to. We shared an interest in bison meat and environmental interest. I was able to direct her to some of the ecological issues in NE Indiana and the early 1900s literary great from that region, Gene Stratton Porter. Any of you read The Girl From Limberlost? In our school system the kids read Where the Wild Fern Grows in fourth grade, connected to their Indiana History unit. Warning: these stories are bittersweet, kind of in the same genre as The Yearling.

Most of all, I waxed poetic on my search for Sámi mittens and some of their unique features I have discovered over the past few years. I talk of a variety of ways to knit color work, and speak of my upcoming trip to Minneapolis because of their Sámi exhibit. All information can be found in her show notes.

All in all, I had a very enjoyable, informative time, and now I can't wait to go back to Tulsa and see the art deco there! Please tell me what you thought of the podcast -- I'd love to hear your feedback.