Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Daddy's Birthday

I just realised I don't think about my Dad so much as I once did, which makes me sad. It also seems rather odd since I work at finding his birth father every day for at least a couple of hours. I sometimes get sick of it and feel it is a waste of time but most of the time I'm pretty determined to crack it. I wonder what makes me so obsessed about this. I think it is because I'm trying to replace what someone 'stole' from me. A decade or so ago I had a whole family tree, for at least several generations. Then the woman who snapped an illicit photo at the Minnesota Historical Society came along and 'chopped' my Dad's side away. I'm fighting to get that whole tree back. I think once that's cracked I might go back to having a more normal life, but don't hold you're breath. I only ever manage a faint facsimile of that concept.

I know quite a bit about my Dad's Norwegian mother and she has sparked my interest in Norwegian culture. As it happens, we are learning Fair Isle knitting at one of my craft groups. I subscribe to a newsletter called Craftsmanship and this month one of the articles is about a Norwegian woman, Annemor Sundbo (except that o should have a forward slash on top of it), dubbed 'the sweater detective'. It tells that she approached a man who had a wool mill because she wanted to study the weaving techniques but instead he sold her the mill and along with it came tons (actual tons!) of old knitted items. She studies the patterns in those as well as in old paintings, noting the variation of patterns. She is trying to get the special sheep that were bred for Norwegian wool, said to be especially hard wearing, to be raised again in quantity. 

Three things struck me from this article. First, her passion for all things wool and where that has led her is the stuff of fantasies for many interested in wool / craft / textiles / history. She's written award winning books and I expect I may try to obtain one at some point. Secondly, the discussion about the variation in knitting patterns from village to village sounded much like the knitted ganseys from this part of the world: wives knitted heavy woolen sweaters for their fishermen using the distinctive pattern developed for her village. Should the man be washed overboard and the body recovered, this pattern would aid in having the body returned to the right village. Grim, isn't it? But it makes perfect sense. It also rather reinforces the idea that Sundbo puts forward that there is a 'spiritual bond' between the maker and the wearer. Norwegian patterns have historical, mythic meanings. Which brings me to the third point. The article mentions Selbu, referring to the popular eight pointed flower called the Selbu rose pattern. Selbu is the village from which my Dad's birth mother's family originated. The pattern is now considered typically Norwegian, but Sundbo says it predates the mid-1800s when it debuted in Selbu and actually dates back to medieval times in Europe and even before in the middle east. The octagonal star has been around for a very long time.

From ThorNews, which I am now following!

I've not got very far on my Fair Isle, it being a rather complex pattern in spite of only using two colours on any given row. I've decided to use the Selbu Rose somewhere in this small bag I'm making. Should I live long enough to finish it, I'll be sure to show it to you. It makes perfect sense to use this pattern in my Fair Isle project given that the place, Fair Isle is pretty much square in between Norway and Scotland. And once I have the Selbu rose mastered, I can move on to the Norwegian 'lice' pattern (or not).

In addition to thinking of my Dad (as opposed to his genetic material) I'm also remembering his brother / half-brother, Albert, born one day and three years earlier than my Dad. Albert drowned in the Mississippi River at the age of 24. I have to wait until 2022 to access his adoption records and learn more about his story.

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