Quilt Gallery

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Arctic, in Color

As promised, I am back with more pictures of the far north, this time in color. As you would expect from a world of glaciers and snow, there is a lot of blue. What I find interesting is the amount of variation. It comes in all shades and intensities. Sometimes it is subtle, such as in this blue-green water, milky from glacial flour.

Sometimes it stands out in stark contrast to its grey surroundings.

It can have a crispness to it.

The blue can be eye-poppingly intense,

and seemingly everywhere on sunny days.

There are also many browns in the arctic. I love the rich browns of this bearded seal (which I should note was an incredibly patient model).

In this scene ruddy brown rocks make glacier blue look brighter.

Humans have left their own colorful marks on Svalbard, as at this old mining site where the hut's wood has a greenish hue.

This photo gives you an idea of the hut's setting.

Uphill from the hut stands a pile of disused rusty red equipment.

Birds bring a lot of color to the arctic, though generally in small doses, such as the pale yellow collar of long-tailed skuas,

and bright orange feet and beaks of puffins.

Glaucous gulls have yellow beaks,

as do kittiwakes.

Then there are the brilliant, almost neon colors of things that seem to be lit from within. Surrounded by snow, ice and bare rock, purple mountain saxifrage really stands out.

 The brightness of mossy tundra hints at its promise as a source of sustenance for wildlife

My favorite is the vibrant aqua of glacier ice which makes icebergs seem almost as alive as the wildlife.

My needlework project for this trip was appropriately colorful: a fair isle practice piece. This is in preparation for eventually knitting a fair isle sweater for myself. My difficulty is getting the tension of the two yarns just right so that the fabric lies flat and even. Here is a view of the piece at my hotel in Longyearbyen, the starting point of our trip. 

For most of the trip the piece sat untouched on a shelf in the ship's lounge, where my shipmates probably got sick of looking at it, but I did get a lot done on the flights home.

The patterns are from "Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting," an excellent source of history, techniques, patterns, color and more, for anyone interested in Fair Isle.

I'll be back soon with photos of wildlife from Svalbard and of the colorful town of Longyearbyen.


  1. Lovely knitting. I made a cowl with the fair isle technique. Here you can find a very very helpful video of two stranded technique. philosopher's wool fair isle video. It helped me a lot. also about the tension.

  2. ps. I recently went to Iceland and I was so lucky to take pictures of puffins too. I post them on my 365 days blog.