Quilt Gallery

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Polar Knitting

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I made a trip to Svalbard, Norway, last summer. In search of wildlife and dramatic scenery, we spent much of our time cruising the polar waters in open zodiacs. I stayed warm in my very own genuine reproduction Douglas Mawson balaclava. Mawson was an Australian geologist who explored Antarctica in the early decades of last century, including leading the first expedition to reach the magnetic south pole. He knew what he was about when it came to cold weather equipment.

One of my shipmates, Doug Cheeseman admired my Mawson balaclava so much that I promised to make one for him. As the owner of Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris and frequent leader of trips to Antarctica Doug was familiar with Mawson's history, and appreciated the usefulness of balaclavas in very cold environments.

Doug Cheeseman enjoying Arctic Beer

In the spirit of the original, I made Doug's balaclava almost entirely of yarn leftover from other projects.

Mawson's balaclava

For more information and a link to purchase the pattern take a look at Artlab Australia's website.

You may also remember that during my trip to Svalbard I was practicing two color knitting. I originally thought I would use the piece as a scarf, but once it was finished I decided it was too heavy and too bulky to be worn comfortably. Instead I stuffed it (using up lots of long narrow scrap pieces of quilt batting) and have put it on a bed as a bolster. It makes reading in bed more comfortable and more colorful.

If you are wondering about the quilt in this photo, it is the first one I ever made. I started it 1986 when I was laid up after foot surgery, then put it aside unfinished while life - school, marriage, new jobs - got in the way. Somehow after my second daughter was born in 1998 I pulled it out again and finished it.  I'm not entirely sure how I found the time to do it then as I was working full time and had two young children to care for. It's not particularly well made but I still really like it's vibrancy and that I can identify the source of every piece of fabric. Some came from clothes I made for myself, others from home decorating items, and still others were given to me by friends. It shows once again that quilts can warm your heart as well as your toes.