Shades of Winter

The temperature here suddenly dropped to 23 degrees last Saturday. This, after a long, hot summer and warm fall. So it was with mixed feelings that I picked up our newest knitting pattern book, Shades of Winter. On the one hand, the book was photographed in the Ice Hotel in northern Sweden, right up there near the Arctic Circle. On the other, it’s loaded with great warm fibery sweaters, shawls, and warmers for various body parts.

Main hall of the Ice Hotel, designed by Arne Bergh and Anders Eriksson, Sweden.

The Ice Hotel, if you haven’t heard of or seen it, is a vast structure built entirely of, yes, frozen water. People actually go there on vacation, eating and sleeping on blocks of ice in rooms built of blocks of ice, lit by chandeliers of sparkling frosty crystals. Spectacular. It’s a lovely setting for the natural white, beige, and gray knitted woolies that you just want to crawl into and not emerge from until spring thaw.

The Ice Hotel is in the remote Sami village of Jukkasvärvi. The Sami are an indigenous group known for reindeer-herding and a unique, colorful style of mitten-knitting (which you can read more about in the January/February 2008 issue of PieceWork). You’ll see the vertical folkloric zigzag motif that is characteristic of Sami knitting in some of the designs of this book but played out in contemporary, monochromatic, fashion-forward ways.

Shades of Winter is the creative output of a couple of Swedish knitwear designers, Ingalill Johansson and Ewa Andinsson. Carol Rhoades, a frequent PieceWork contributor, translated the book into English. It’s a striking collection in every way (but I’m glad I didn’t have to go on that photoshoot. Brr.)