Gift Knitting: It's Never too Early

It might be counter-intuitive, but summer is the perfect time to start your holiday gift knitting.

    
Rya Flower Cushion by Lucinda Guy

Small projects are perfect for gift knitting; they travel well, and there's no pile of wool in your lap on a hot day. One of my favorite source for knit gift ideas is a wonderful little book called Northern Knits Gifts by Lucinda Guy. All of the projects in this collection is inspired by knitting traditions from the Scandinavian and northern countries.

There are so many beautiful gift options in this book. You'll find something to knit for everyone on your list; there are more traditional gifts like hats, scarves, and mittens, and there are some really darling items for children, which you would expect from Lucinda! The home dec items are really exciting, though.

The Rya Flower Cushion, for example, is so unique. There's a shop I love that features Danish Modern furniture and accessories, and this pillow would fit right into the store's inventory.

It would add a lot to anyone's decor, I think, and what fun for the knitter! Here's what designer Lucinda Guy has to say about this unusual piece:

Rya Flower Cushion

This quirky, fun flower cushion will make a wonderful gift and addition to any home. It has been inspired by two traditional Danish textile techniques: the beautiful Danish whitework know as Hedebo, and the traditional, decorative Danish wool rya. Hedebo is a specific type of cut and drawn work on white linen that was used as decoration for household linens. Originally made by peasants using patterns inspired by the natural world and other decorative folk craft, the early patterns depicted large stylized foliate and floral shapes.

Asa Mittens from Northern Knits Gifts
    
Annelli Doll from Northern Knits Gifts
Onni Child's Sweater and Hat
from Northern Knits Gifts

This Rya Flower Cushion is knitted in the round, with two separate leaves and one stem. Purl stitches are used as outlines for the patterned area, and once the knitting is completed, the rya tufts are hooked through the front of the knitting and trimmed. Simple French knots are used as further decoration.

Working the Rya Technique

Originating in Finland, a rya (or ryijy) is essentially a loom-woven textile with a linen warp onto which small bunches of woolen threads are knotted by hand. This process creates a shaggy wool pile. Rya creates wonderful rigs and blankets that originally were used for bedding and sleigh rides. Ryas are ideal for the severely harsh winter climate of the northern lands-not only durable and practical, but also exceptionally luxurious.

Early ryas were made from naturally occurring shades of wool. Gradually, plant dyes, such as birch leaves, barks, and cones were used to introduce color. Ryas were an essential and much prized part of a bride's dowery; they could be used as a currency and even used to pay taxes!

In Denmark, the rya was used more extensively in the form of cushion covers for use in sleighs and carriages and had long and short wool pile forming all, or accentuating parts, of the pattern.

Now, rya has become an art form throughout Scandinavia.

—Lucinda Guy, Northern Knits Gifts

Noomi Slippers
from Northern Knits Gifts
    

I would love to make the Rya Pillow. It offers a new technique, a way to bring in colors from your home, and a wonderful conversation piece!

There are so many options for gift knitting in this book. I've shown some of them here, but you should get yourself a copy of Northern Knits Gifts, or download the eBook, and get started on your gift knitting early!

Cheers,

P.S. Have you started on your holiday gifts yet? Leave a comment and tell us what's on your needles!

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