We had a Norwegian foreign exchange student for the school year when our daughter was a sophomore in high school. It was not something we had planned on doing. At the time our neighbor was involved in running the program and they were desperate for someone to house a student temporarily until a host family could be found for the whole year. We already had a very full life, but after seeing the profile of the student we agreed to a temporary placement. My husband’s heritage is 100% Norwegian which influenced our decision to go for it. After doing a DNA test since then, he was dismayed to find out he also has some Swedish!
Long story short but Ingrid was wonderful and we agreed to have her with us for the entire school year. It was a very positive experience and in fact she stayed with us for 11 months, and then returned a year later to see us as well as close friends she had made at school in Minnesota. We hope to visit her in Norway some time.
One of the fall outings we went on with Ingrid was a trip to Ingebretsen’s, a Scandinavian shop in Minneapolis selling gifts, food, books and craft supplies. Unbeknownst to me, she did some holiday shopping while we were there. On Christmas morning I was excited to unwrap a book called “55 Christmas Balls to Knit” by Arne & Carlos. It turns out that Arne and Carlos live near where she is from in Norway. Knitters out there have probably heard of these textile artist partners who have a blog and youtube channel, knitting and crochet patterns, a relationship with Rowan yarn and other ventures. You can see what is going on in their world on their website arnecarlos.com.
Ingrid’s aunt is a knitter, so another Christmas gift for me that year was one of the Arne and Carlos Christmas balls knitted from a pattern in the book. Following is a photo of that ornament hanging on our tree now.
Arne and Carlos came to Minneapolis several years ago. A friend and I attended an event where they gave a talk and slide show about their textile projects, were available to autograph books, and handed out gift bags that included a ball of Rowan yarn and a pattern. I brought my copy of the Christmas Balls book for them to sign.
Another Christmas ball on our tree this year was hand knit by my elderly distant cousin in Sweden, Sif. She is the daughter of my Great Grandfather Leonard Eriksson’s youngest sister. Leonard traveled to America from Sweden by himself in 1889 at age 14 with only $10, which was stolen while he was sleeping on a park bench during the journey. He eventually became a lawyer and in 1923 built our beloved family cabin from Swedish plans. The story of Leonard and the cabin is part of my mom’s self published memoir “The Red Cottage“. Our family has kept in touch with this branch of the family all these years. My husband and I visited Sif in 1988 at her home in Vasteras, Sweden, and more recently she and her daughter visited Jewett Lake several times during our annual Eriksson family reunion at the cabin.
In the years since I have knit many of the Christmas Balls myself. A few of them are hanging on our Christmas tree, but most I have given away as gifts.
The following photo was taken while we still lived in the Twin Cities, and I still had that many Christmas Balls. They are displayed in a basket next to a ceramic turtle vessel adorned with a frog that my mom made. The entire back of the turtle is a lid that can be removed. I have always loved this turtle but at the moment it is packed in a box under the basement stairs from when we moved two and a half years ago.
Looking at the Christmas balls inspires me to knit more of them. I hope everyone had a good holiday and that 2022 brings new adventures and blessings.