Finnougoria III cap: moving further from the traditional patterns.

This is the third version of the cap I designed using the principle of traditional Finno-Ugric textiles. It looks more like an Art Deco cap, my daughter told me.

My friend Emma modeled the cap. It looked good on her: she has a smaller head and the shorter version fit her just right. So I gave the cap to her. She is an outdoor type and will find the cap handy.


We photographed in Fort Foster Park in Kittery, Maine. The park has been reopened for the locals just 2 days ago. The sky promised a rain. The wind was unkindly cool. The surroundings were pearly gray. In sum, not a cheerful day. But in the park by the ocean we could forget what was out there: people in masks, lines to the stores, take-out only restaurants, empty store fronts… We tried to have a good and creative day, regardless of the circumstances.

“What day is it?”
” It is today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh
– A. A. Milne

But you are not reading this article because you need to know what we did. You are here because of the cap.

This cap is very similar to the previous 2 versions in Finnougoria series. See Finnougoria I : it has all the technical details. I used different yarns of approximately equal thickness for this cap just like I do for all my colorwork caps.

The diagram below has two starting points (I knit bottom up): one is smaller version (just like on the photos) and another is for the deeper version.

Finnougoria II: the cap inspired by diagonal Finno-Ugric patterns

The diagonal patterns based on Finno-Ugric textile traditions offer such a great opportunities for the designers. Here is another cap with instructions. For the community use.

Finnougoria II cap

I worked out some technical kinks from the previous version of the cap with the diagonal patterns.

This version reminds even less the patterns of traditional Finnish or Komi hand-knit items. I extrapolated the new design from the previous one. And the previous one I derived from the traditional Komi patterns.

I used the traditional patters as a framework to extend the existing ways of making things. This is the most wonderful and robust thing about any folk tradition: it can be extended.

The instructions (tension, material choice, construction, etc.) are the same as for the cap Finnougoria I.

Knitting diagram

On the left side there are stitches marked as LAST STITCHES IN ROW. They are there to prevent the unsightly jog.

Finnougoria I: the cap with Finno-Ugric diagonal patterns

The Finno-Ugric diagonal patterns are beautiful and can be worked into a cap design. This post has a free pattern for the readers of my blog.

The charm of the diagonal patterns

I learned a lot about the diagonal patterns when researching the history of the Komi knitting. Komi is the large territory of the Russian North. The research resulted in several posts about the history of this knitting tradition. The posts have many examples of patterns and items made with these patterns by the Komi women.

Traditional Komi socks, rare photo from the 1980s.
Photo: Nina Fileeva. Ms. Fileeva made many lyrical photographs of the northern craftspeople in the 1980s.

The diagonal patterns can be expanded, contracted and interlocked in all directions. They can grow one from another without loosing their shared internal rhythm. Several patterns locked together create a fabric that look breathtakingly complex, but, in reality, it is easy to knit.

The flow of Finno-Ugric patterns reminds me the lines from the poem:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.

T.S. Eliot, from Burnt Norton

Diagonal patterns and sizing

Enough of poetry. Back to knitting.
Here is a bit of nasty news: these beautiful interlocking diagonal patterns do not lend themselves easily to sizing. The stitch count in a pattern repeat should be divisible by 6. It means that you must reduce the item size minimum by 6 stitches – 3 in the beginning of the first pattern repeat and 3 at the end of the last pattern repeat. This is a LOT. Plus, there is a need to deal with a jog.

The design of this cap calls for 180 stitches (6 repeats of a 30-stitch pattern).
If you need to change the sizing, you can do it in other ways than reducing/increasing stitch count:
– use smaller/bigger needle size
– mix thicker and thinner yarns
– use thicker yarn for an inner layer (You will understand what I mean by ‘inner layer’ a bit later, when we get to Overview)
– make full inner layer instead of a partial one.
– replace several bottom rows with ribbing
In sum, design your own strategy to modify the size without changing the stitch count.

Project Overview

It took me several tries to get this cap right, so the pictures below are from TWO last versions of Finnougoria I cap.

Size: 59-60cm
Gage: 2.5cm x 2.5cm = apx 9 stiches x 11 rows

Completed version #1
and incomplete version #2 (final)

You can choose your method of construction to adjust the size.
I would assume here that you follow my way of making the hat.

The hat is knit bottom-up, without ribbing, but with double-layering on the bottom.
I used Judy’s Magic cast on to start a double layer.
Cast on 180 stitches on each needle. Put a marker every 30 stitches in both layers.
Two layers – the inner and the outer – are knit separately in opposite directions from the cast-on rows. While you knit one layer on shorter circular needles, the other layer rests on longer circular needle or moved onto a string of waste yarn.
I used #2 USA needles to knit the outer later, and #1 USA for the inner layer.

I started with knitting the inner layer first

After the inner layer is about 17 rows and the outer layer is 18 rows, fold the fabric and transfer all the stitches onto one #2 USA needle. The next row: continue, carefully knitting each inner and outer stitch together.

The crown is formed by reducing stitches in the beginning and end of pattern.

Both layer are ready to be joined
Joining the layers
The inside of the completed Version #2 cap.

Choice of yarns

I like mixing yarns. For this project I used “fluffy” mixed yarn for the white color and smooth yarn for the red.

Experiment – use different yarns!
The yarns are described below, in Version #1
The yarns of different textures made the fabric more interesting.
(Photo of Version #1)
Outer layerInner layer
Version #1
Red:
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, ADDICTIONS, Fingering Weight,
100% fine merino ~35 g
White: two yarns mixed
Plymouth Baby Alpaca, Lace Weight
Kid mohair, Lace Weight ~30g
Plymouth Baby Alpaca, Lace Weight, doubled ~15g
Version #2 (final, as shown on model)
Red:
Cascade Heritage, Fingering Weight
85% merino 15% mulberry silk, ~25 g
White:
Rowan Alpaca Classic, DK weight
60% alpaca, 40% cotton ~25g
Plymouth Baby Alpaca, Lace Weight, doubled ~15g

One of the Facebook group members recommended brand Rauma Finull, because the red yarn of this brand does not bleed.

Tools

Circular needles:
#2 USA 36in. or 48in. (optional)
#2 USA 24in.
#1 USA 24in.

Double-pointed needles (if you do not know how to use magic loop):
#2

Markers: 12

Diagram

Important note: the pattern is free for the hand-knitters, but it is not for commercial use or mass production.

2 diagrams: the bottom and the crown.
The diagram shows 30-stitch pattern repeat. As your recall there are 6 repeats, 30 stitches each. The leftmost 31st stitch on the diagram is the last stitch of the last pattern repeat to fix the jog.
The rest of the important comments are right on the diagram.

Postscript

Let me know how your cap turns out.
While posting the pictures of this cap in FB groups, I found out something interesting about the items with red-and-white with diagonal patterns from the fellow knitters.
It looks like at the turn of the 20th century the sweaters, cardigans and caps in this style were very popular in Finland and the neighboring Russian territory on the shores of the White Sea called Pomorye. Pomorye was a melting pot, because it has the important old Russian sea port of Arkhangelsk. The Pomors – that what the inhabitants of the area were called – were a mix of the Komi, Hanty, Mansy, Finns, Russians and other ethic groups.
But this is the story for the later post.

Clothes circa 1906 from real color photos: Middle Asia along the Silk Road

Rare color photographs from the Silk Road taken in 1906 – 1910.

The photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, an offspring of the Russian nobility and an enthusiast of color photos and movies, took color photographs in Samarkhand and Bukhara between 1906 and 1910. Both cities are ancient Middle-Asian centers and were major stops on Silk Road. These photographs were a part of very large photographic project that documented the different corners of the vast Russian Empire. Among the hundreds of scenic photos, there were several portraits of the local inhabitants from the different layers of the society. It is very interesting to see what they wore.

Before you look through the pictures, I should remind you that they are real color photographs.

After the revolution in Russia Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky found his way to United States. He never stopped working on inventing better technology for colored photography and movies.

Kurmy

Beyond the loom: fiber as sculpture (Exhibition)

“Beyond the loom” was an exhibition within the large exhibition of women’s art “Women Take the Floor” in Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Visited in January 2020. It featured the groundbreaking fiber works from the 1950s to 2000s by female artists. Inspirational.

In the 1960s and 70s, a number of pioneering women in America radically redefined textiles as modern art. Coopting a medium traditionally associated with women’s work and domesticity, these artists boldly broke free from the constraints of the loom to create large-scale, sculptural weavings that engaged with movements such as Minimalism and Abstraction. This “fiber revolution” sprang from a new philosophical emphasis on structure in textile art, as well as revived interest in tapestry weaving and the brilliance of the ancient Peruvian textiles.

From the introduction to the exhibition

Anni Albers (1899-1994), Dotted Weaving, 1959

I think [weaving] is the closest to architecture, because it is a building up out of a single element – building a whole out of single elements

Anni Albers
Wool, compound weave

Sheila Hicks (born 1934), Linen facets (1988)

Lenore Tawney (1907-2007),
The Fountain of Word and Water (1963)

Water is fertilizing and water is dissolving and water is cleansing and water is life-giving… Water is thrilling.

Lenore Tawney
Knotted linen

Olga de Amaral (born 1932), Strata II (2007)

In the 1980s Olga de Amaral began to experiment with gold and silver leaf, connecting her work in fiber with a long history of indigenous Colombian metalwork artists.

From the exhibit description
Linen plain weave, gesso, acrylic and gold leaf

Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), Untitled (1952)
Kay Sekimachi (born 1926), Amiyase V (1956)

Everything has its limitations, and fiber does… and of course the loom has many limitations. I love working within limitations.

Kay Sekimachi
Foreground: work by Kay Sekimachi.
Woven nylon 6 monofilament

Sheila Hicks (born 1934), Bamian (1968)

All of the threads are actors on stage and none of them are hidden. They’re all part of the oevre

Sheila Hicks
Wool and acrylic yarn, wrapped

Judy Becker’s Magic Cast On beyond socks: good bye, ribbing!

I envisioned the pattern on my Komi vests to start right away at the bottom, without ribbing. Ribbing is a necessary evil of every knit garment: it keeps edges from curling up. The goal was to kiss good-bye to ribbing.

I wanted the pattern start from the very edge of the garment without ribbing, that keeps edge from curling up.
Judy’s Magic Cast On which I found in my trusty little book Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor was just the technique that accommodated my design.

General instructions

Judy’s Magic Cast On is used mostly in knitting sock toes. It looks very neat and truly invisible. There are many YouTube videos, but here Judy explains herself.
I will go directly to the design idea.

Basic recipe for bottom-up sweater/vest on circular needles

Overview: The idea works for garments knit bottom up.
You create a counter-tension of two fabrics knit in opposite directions from the cast-on rows without adding too much bulk.
First you knit up and down, fold the fabric, gather the stitches onto another pair of needles and knit together. Continue knitting the garment in a round, as usual.
Press the fold when the garment is done.

Needed: 3 circular needles of your project size, 2 longer and 1 can be shorter. Some quantity of thinner (sports or baby weight) yarn in addition to your project yarn.

  1. Cast on necessary number of stitches using 1 shorter and 1 longer set of needles.
    If your item requires 220 stitches then each needle should end up with 220 stitches. The direction of knitting on one needle will go up and on another – down.
  2. Before knitting, look attentively which side the yarn twists are on. The twists should end up on purl side.
  3. Knit “up” several rows in stranded color work. (I knitted 5).
  4. Knit “down” with a thin and dense yarn fewer rows. (I knitted 4.)
  5. Fold fabric and transfer stitches to the third needle: one stitch from one needle, one stitch from another needle.
  6. Continue the pattern on color work side, carefully knitting each stitch together. Inside fabric should remain as invisible as possible.

The finished edge looks a bit puffy. Carefully press the fold when the project is finished. Avoid stretching the edge.
Here is what I ended up with:

Thin inside band does not add bulk, but provides sufficient counter-tension to prevent curling.

If Judy’s Magic Cast On worked for socks and a vest edge and socks, it should work for mittens. My next idea was to knit two-sided mittens: one side – of fine angora, another side – of sock yarn. The success did not come cheap. It took 3 tries to get it somewhat right. Two sided mittens is a fancy idea that you do not have to follow, but the idea of using Judy’s Magic Cast On to knit mitten tips produces beautiful round shape.

The tips of the mittens: you can see Judy’s Magic Cast On, I hope. The outside of the mittens is Debbie Bliss’s angora. The palm side is a fine sock yarn from Peru.

Meanwhile… Let’s return to my Komi vest: the edge obediently stays down!

Komi Knitting VI: reviving the heritage

The dark 1990s after the collapse of the USSR were over. The 21st century brought the renewed interest to the traditional arts in the Republic of Komi. The last article in the series is about the modern knitwear artists exploring the rich opportunities of their Komi heritage.

All posts exploring the art and history of Komi Color Knitting.

The attitudes of the Komis towards their ancient heritage radically changed in the early 2000s. Now the Komi language is a mandatory discipline in schools. The newspapers, magazines, websites are published in Komi.

The heirloom socks donated to one of the the ethnographic museums
Republic of Komi on Russian map

There is tremendous interest and support for the traditional folk art, including color knitting. The Center for Education In Folk Arts in Syktyvkar is a lively place where the adults and children are receiving quality instruction in the native arts and crafts.

The Komi women from all walks of life sign up for knitting master classes in impressive numbers. It has become popular among the young to wear legwarmers knit with traditional geometric Komi patterns. The textile artists specializing in traditional Komi knitting are becoming celebrities of sorts.

Three artists featured here have different directions, but one thing in common: they learned the traditional Komi knitting with diagonal geometric patterns from their peasant grandmothers and returned to it in mature years.

Zinaida Mayorova: a retiree turns into a well-known artist

Zinaida Mayorova with her creations

Ms. Mayorova was born in 1953. Her family is from Sysola region of Komi. As a child she noticed a pair of beautiful mittens made by her grandmother in the early years of the 20th century. They were stored in the family heirloom chest. She paid no mind to the old-fashioned mittens then. Many knitters of her generation knitted in a homogenized style borrowed from the Western and Eastern Europe.

After retiring in the early 2000s, Ms. Mayorova had plenty of time on her hands and the idea for a project struck her. She remembered the grandma’s mittens and embarked on serious study of the knitting traditions of her native Sysola.
Her research was a truly scientific undertaking: at her own expense she traveled hundreds of miles to study the old knitted objects in to Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg.

The underlying theme of Ms. Mayorova’s work is the preservation of the tradition, however, she enlarged the palette of colors and projects beyond the traditional.

Currently she teaches the master classes, conducts presentations on traditions of Sysola knitting and occasionally does commissioned work.

Watch the segment for FinnougoroVidenie. You might not understand the language, but it shows Ms. Mayorova’s work. You can also see the 100-year-old mittens knitted by her grandmother. Ms. Mayorova explains that in the old days the mittens did not have ribbing because there were worn with complimentary wrist warmers.

Galina Ogorodnikova: the dynasty of folk artists

Galina Ogorodnikova inherited her talent as a textile artist from her grandmother, a peasant woman from Pechora region. When Galina was about 10, she coveted a pair of store-bought mittens. Her grandmother Maria told her that she was quite capable to make the mittens herself. And this is what she did.

Ms. Ogorodnikova’s family moved to Pechora in 1963. She worked as a cook in the rural daycare center. The skills inherited from the grandma Maria came handy: she made clothes for her children. They were not only practical objects made out of necessity, they were products of artistic imagination.

Ms. Ogorodnikova’s career as a folk artist started with macrame. She turned to the traditional Komi color knitting in the mid 1990s when she had already won multiple competition awards for her works in other techniques.

Her designs integrate the traditional Komi knitting patterns, folk costume and the modern knitwear trends. It takes the artist between 1 to 3 years to develop and to execute the larger projects.

Galina Ogorodnikova was awarded the title of The Master of Russian Folk Arts (it is a very approximate equivalent of Living National Treasure in Japan.).

Aside from being a talented textile artist, Ms. Ogorodnikova has a special knack for teaching others, especially children. She taught her daughter Oksana (a well-known folk artist) and her granddaughter Yaroslava. Currently she is a faculty member at The Center for Education In Folk Arts in Syktyvkar .

Galina Ogorodnikova with her granddaughter Yaroslava Malinova at the opening of the personal exhibition at Komi National Gallery. October, 2019.
Photo from the VK post of Шондiбан

Granddaughter Yaroslava Malinova is also an artist and a teacher in her own right. Her first pair of mittens she made at the age of 5 under her grandmother’s direction.

Svetlana Turova: a founder of the socially responsible enterprise

Svetlana Turova is in her 40s. She belongs to the generation that came into age during the wild and dark 1990s.
Like Ms. Mayorova and Ms. Ogorodnikova, Svetlana learned knitting from her Komi grandmother. She become a skillful knitter by age of 15 and, while in school, knitted for extra income.

Svetlana Turova at the business expo with the products of her studio .
Photo from New Business website

In 2007 Svetlana Turova came up with an idea of a socially responsible enterprise that produces machine-knit items with traditional Komi patterns.

She worked as an upper-level manager in the distribution company when she sensed that the company was likely to fold during the next financial crisis in Russia. She started to think of what to do next. Svetlana hand-knitted several toys that her grandmother taught her to make long time ago, took several vacation days and traveled to the Moscow exhibition of folk art. Her toys won a prize. Svetlana understood that she was onto something with her knitting.

As a woman with a solid business and legal background (Svetlana has a degree in law), she understood three things from the very start:

  • Her knitting studio must be a legal business to qualify for grants, loans and tax breaks. (Many entrepreneurs in Russia prefer to operate in a “gray zone” due to byzantine tax code and scant legal protection.)
  • There is a revival of ethnic pride among the Komi people. Her studio might become a trend-setter among the young to wear the clothing with the traditional Komi patterns.
  • Hand-knitting is not the way to make living. It is too expensive for the young people. It is hard to produce on larger scale.

The road was not easy for Svetlana Turova. Her first studio, started in 2008, failed. Her husband was supportive but a bit skeptical. The well-wishers advised her to produce underwear instead of sweaters. But Svetlana persevered. She had a mission: “I want the world to know that Komi stands for beautiful. Komi is cool.”

With a patchwork financing from grants for socially responsible enterprises, public fundraising, interest-free loans and the help from the local authorities, Svetlana Turova reopened her studio Югыд арт (Yugyd Art with better knitting machines. She traveled to Finland to learn from the 200-year-old Saami family business.

The logo of Svetlana Turova’s studio.
It reads “Yugyd-Art: genuine Northern sweaters”

In 2016-2018 Svetlana Turova and her husband, who joined her in her enterprise, moved to the village. They build the complex with a studio space and living quarters to accommodate a new branch of their business – knitting tourism. The knitters from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Germany and other places have already booked the first available time slots. (If you are interested in spending a few days in beautiful Russian North, click on logo above.)

New headquarters of Svetlana Turova’s studio in the village 40 miles from the city.
It is build in style of traditional Komi dwelling.
Photo from New Business website

Aside from running the business, Svetlana still teaches classes for hand-knitters dedicated to the art of traditional Komi knitting.

References

The most of the material came from hours of trawling the Russian-language sites for bits and pieces of information. I tried my best to attribute the photos that I borrowed for this post. My apologies for the incorrect attributions.
In case if you decide to google the artists presented in this blog, here are the spellings of their names in Cyrillic:

Zinaida Mayorova: Зинаида Майорова
Galina Ogorodnikova: Галина Огородникова
Yaroslava Malinova: Ярослава Малинова
Svetlana Turova: Светлана Турова

Komi spells in Cyrillic as: Коми