Lille Jul Aften - Little Christmas Eve

23rd December
Today is a very special day for Norwegians. Today is the beginning of the celebrations of celebrating! Yes you read that right. A day marked for the beginning of celebrating.

This day has been celebrated from at least the twelfth century and possibly even before that in Norway. In days of old it was thought of as a day of washing and a night of decorating. And in some respects that is still what Norwegians do today.   Today is the day that many will choose their Christmas tree (I know not of one Norwegian who has an artificial tree) and will decorate it as a family. Again tastes and fashion change but many will also include paper bunting with the Norwegian flag as an essential part of the tree decorations.

I don't know about you but I try hard to give the house a bit of  a once over spring type clean before filling the house with decorations as so too historically have the Norwegians on this day.  Lille Juleaften  (Little Christmas Eve) even the name is so inviting and enticing I think, is a day for preparing the final touches and beginning to celebrate.

So to start the day there is cleaning and making room for the tree; in reality too, it is a day to finish off present buying, wrapping and last minute food preparations. After all tomorrow is the BIG day in Norway. So a day of washing and preparing and then a night of decorating. Decorating is two fold, both bringing the tree into the house and decorating that as a signal that Christmas celebrating can begin but also decorating of oneself. Traditionally Norwegians would have new clothes for this night. I did not actually know this and must check with mamma tonight if she did, as we too have that tradition in our house. Is it that this is a tradition so long rooted in our DNA that we did not even know about it or was mamma aware of this Scandinavian tradition?  Funny, how the origins of traditions can be blurred and forgotten.  I fondly recall always being sent or given a new outfit for Christmas myself from my grandparents and loving it. Mamma too, now a Bestemor, takes both my children out individually and they buy a Christmas outfit with her. This is a tradition that has nothing to do with me and that both my children really enjoy. A way of spending quality time with their grandmother whilst having a new outfit to look 'smart' in for Christmas. As I have said before, I just love traditions. Should I ever be blessed with grandchildren I will so look forward to this.

Yesterday was out Ladies Christmas Lunch, hosted by my cousin for her first time, she is not of Norwegian descent but I was warmed to the core on entering her beautiful new home to see that she has begun some of our traditions with her family.  This year they have made pepper kake,
troll deig tree decorations and our loveable pinecone Nisse, this is what it is all about...sharing.

I have been touched by so many of you telling me that you enjoy reading this blog and several of you have told me that you have made some of the cookies or decorations that I have so far featured, thank you from the bottom of my heart for  letting me know that you have done this.  Below are some of your photos. 

Merry Christmas everyone and God Jul!

A  family in the UK making pepper kake, they adapted this for diabetics.  If you would like the recipie please email me on

Finished results, look just like the real thing to me!  Thank you for adapting this recipie and sharing it with us!

 A family in Australia, used their imagination and made a Christmas tree from the pepperkake! ♥ it!

Trolldeig decorations being made on the South coast of the UK.
I understand several of you are struggling to posts comments, if you would be so kind as to let me know if this has happened to you, I will try and sort this out with Blogger, please do not give up!  comments are lovely to receive!!! 

Ladies Christmas Lunch

22nd December

When two families join together through marriage or partnership, you never really know who you are getting involved with when it comes to THEIR family, do you?  I have been married now for nearly twenty years and so have finally got a bit of an idea what HIS family are like and...they are OK ;)  In truth, they are more than OK and we get on great.  In fact mamma and my aunt hit it off with the M-I-L so well that I decided I should do something about it!  What did I do?  Well nothing immediately, but about a year or so into my marriage and none of these good women had been in touch apart from the obligatory Christmas card sending, that I decided to bring them together at my house for a lunch in early December.  Nobody lived particularly close, some an hour away and others almost three hours away.  Those who lived the furthest away were invited to stay the night and mamma and Auntie F were to drive back home.
Food always feature heavily and we
enjoy trying new things each year, even the
younger generation prepare something when
they 'host'
I remember clearly the lunch, the house I lived in then, although in England had a very distinct open plan Scandi feel to it and as I laid the table for lunch, trying to get the 'I haven't gone to too much trouble planning this look', but actually planned it thoroughly, I was a little apprehensive to how everyone would really get along and how the conversation would flow.  We were to be eight for lunch, mamma with her two daughters, Auntie F with her three daughters and M-I-L with her daughter.  Need I have worried?  No.  The conversation flowed, the laughter was loud and the atmosphere distinctly warm and friendly.  The lunch lasted much longer than anticipated and those who had to drive home were reluctant to.  Mr H arrived from work to a full house, we had thought he would not, and this was the beginning of a new family tradition.  A family 'Ladies Christmas Lunch' was born.

Table presents were all hand made,
even the paper bags were hand made by mamma

Most years we manage to have our 'Lunch' around the end of November or beginning of December and over the years one or two of us have had to miss it for different reasons, usually and I think only when they have been out of the country, otherwise we have a strong bond to attend and have fun.  Since we began this almost twenty years ago, two of the 'ladies' now live abroad and a third is about to do so next month, but such is the pull of this lunch that more often or not, they return 'home' to attend.  This year we are a full house and to ensure this was the case, the lunch is being hosted today by my cousin on the south coast, who knows when we may be a full house again.  We have grown in numbers with new additions to the family and this year we will be eleven ladies, the youngest being three.

As you can imagine food plays a central role, along with some cocktails and the lunch has now become a ladies 'sleepover', so instead of being a four hour stint, the whole week end needs to be set aside!  The concept has grown and evolved over the years and it has been lovely to watch everyone add to it.  Some years we have had 'guest' ladies which has added its own fruitiness.  To ensure everyone is involved we take it in turns to host, the host being responsible for the food and everyone else bringing the drink.  At some point over the years, a Secret Santa was introduced and this year for the first time, we have a theme to the presents.  We will be by the coast for lunch this year and so all presents need to be on a seaside theme. 

You can see the invite that arrived for this years festivities has set the scene well.  Nice one, cousin!  I like the touch.

This lunch has become another tradition that we have in this family and one that we all really love.  The men of the family after some years of this tradition, felt that they should have their own thing, which 'excluded' the women.  So if I remember correctly three times over the years they have got together and had full on activity week ends, all very successful, but they do not seem to be as organised as we are!  This is our 15th year!

Three times we have travelled to Norway for the Ladies Lunch and twice it has coincided with the beginning of Advent, so we were all able to sing and dance around the town Christmas tree with all the other Scandi's and take part in a Norwegian tradition.  This time of year is all about keeping some of the old traditions alive and creating new ones to take us forward.  Last year as I mentioned, we were in Norway at mamma's for the lunch, a great time was had by all.  However the sink became blocked and we were left with a mound of washing up as we did not dare use the dishwasher either.  We do eat and drink rather a lot.  Here's hoping to this year, and my cousin hosting her very own first Ladies Lunch that it is hiccup free and if not...we will still have a fantastic time because we are all together.

Ice bowl made by my S-I-L

♥I love traditions that can evolve and move with the times!♥

Coffee panacotta

Knitted Little Nisse

21st December

By the time it comes to decorating the dining room properly for Christmas it is usually around  the 20th December, a few bits always sneak in a little earlier as I re discover them year on year, but the main push is always around now.  One of my favourite homemade decorations (apart from the crocheted snowflakes, see earlier post) are the little knitted Nisse that mamma made many years ago.  Every year they come out and squirrel there way into our home, one just one, but many many Nisse are hung around the room.

Norwegians often bring in twigs and branches to hang decorations on and Christmas time is no exception.  So today I have been in the garden and have cut a few branches from the holly tree to hang the Nisse on.  Simple, plain, homely and for us in our home, Christmassy.

These Nisse hang all over the dining room, we must have about 50 of them,
notice the shy one with his back to you,
they each have their own character and no two are exactly the same!

Knitted hanging Nisse 

These were made so long ago that we do not have the pattern any longer, but they are very simple to make.  As a rough guide and you will need to play around with this, knit on 3 needles (although Norwegian will knit on 4) a needle size of 2 or 2.5.
Use wool size appropriate to needles.

With black cast on 18 st, divided on the three needles.  Knit 3 rows.
Change to red wool and knit 7 rows.
Change to white or flesh colour and knit 4 rows.
Change back to red and knit 3 rows.
Now we need to begin to decrease.  On the next four rows decrease by knitting 2 together at the beginning of each needle, so you should have 6 stitches left after 4 rows.
Final row, knit 2 together 3 times, leaving you with only 3 stitches left.
Cut wool and pull through the last 3 stitches make a hanging loop and fasten off.

To make the face, you will need to embroider on the eyes.  for beards and hair, it is personal preference how you do it, but we tend to get a long piece of wool and thread in and out in the desired area, not pulling the wool all the way through, so as to allow for the hair to be sticking out.  If you struggle to understand, email me and I can give futher instructions and possibly some photos too.  am assuming no one is going to make these now before Christmas, but if you do I may struggle to give photographic help!

All our Nisse are different sizes to help give a more individual feel to them , just adjust how many you cast on and take it from there!  Enjoy!


Cork Nisse
These little chaps are cute, fun and very quick to make.  We began making these over 20 years ago and a couple you see in the below photograph are that old.  Inside are champagne corks, so get drinking and start saving the corks, ready to make for next Christmas.  Of course you can dress them in any colour you like and have these little chaps around all year.  Should you like a female version, just plait up some wool and add it under the hat and you have yourself a lady!  Blow are patterns both for a knitted and a crocheted version. 

For crochet version:

and for the knitted version:

EDIT:  I have been informed that the above link does not actually contain the pattern anymore, please try this one:  Kork Nisse

Today we will partake in another new family tradition and will trudge into London to the glorious Albert Hall and sing carols to our hearts content, all wearing Christmas hats of course, even Mr H (he may wear a black one with Bah Humbug written on it!)  Enjoy today and all the preparations that so close to Christmas inevitably bring

Christmas Cookies number 7

20th December

Specialist tins, but you could use Yorkshire pudding
tins or silicone muffin moulds instead
Today is the day!  Today we complete the Norwegian tradition of having baked seven småkaker for Christmas.  Out of all the recipes you can choose, and there are many, each family chooses their favourites to make, and so my seven will be different to someone elses.  My final contribution to this tradition are Sandkaker (Sand cakes).

200g butter
100g sugar
1 egg
250g plain flour
50g blanched almonds
2 drops of almond essence

♥  Whisk together the butter and sugar until a
     light cream colour..
♥  Add in the egg.
♥  Mix in the sifted flour, almonds and essence
    and form a dough.
♥  Let the dough rest for a while in a cold place.
♥  Grease the Sandkaker tins and press a small
    amount of dough into each tine until even
    and level all round.
♥  Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until a light
    golden colour.
♥  Cool in tins, remove carefully once cooled. 
    (I find this very tricky to get them out!)

These are delicious on their own with a cup of tea or coffee but are traditionally served with whipped cream and fruit.

NOTE:  For the purpose of this blog, I experimented with different cases, as I assume most of you will not have Sandkake tins.  I used the silicone muffins cases and Yorkshire pudding trays.  For both it would be best to roll out the pastry and cut using a serrated edge round cookie cutter, as you would for mince pies, and gently press them into the casing that you use.

These are the Sandkake cases upside down so you can see the fluted edges better, fill them with whipped cream and fruit.

These sandkake were made using the silicone muffin cases, looking at the upside down ones, they too have a little fluted edge, so nearly a traditional shape!

These sandkake were made using a Yorkshire tin and with a serrated edge cookie round cutter.  I think these work rather well and actually may use this in the future as a quick method of making sandkake!


...and here are all seven småkaker 

I do hope you have enjoyed the journey of baking them as much as I have   Thank you for popping over to visit!

Kransekake - Norwegian 'Wreath' Celebration Cake

19th December

Sitting at the desk in the study whilst everyone is asleep, I still put on the twinkly outdoor lights, so a little of their magic seeps in through the French door window and makes me feel just that little bit extra cosy and excited.  This morning the sky is that deep dark blue before the whole world wakes up and through the winter bare branched trees I can see am almost full moon effusing out its yellowy warm glow.  All feels calm and good with the world as I sit here in my little cocoon, not thinking of the reality of the world around me.  I think that is part of the charm of December, it is a time where you can try and forget all the rumble and grumble of life for a few magical minutes and it is these that I savour.


Traditional celebration cake in Norway
Today we are still in the kitchen and we make a very special and very traditional cake:  kransekake.  Both my father and Uncle, (not Norwegian,) just LOVE this cake and ask for it to be made just whenever, there is a standing joke that my Uncle always asks who has made the kransekake, mamma or I, as he prefers hers!!!!  Just to let you know Uncle K, mamma has made it this year! I was taking the photos!

What is a kransekake?  A direct translation would give it the name of 'wreath cake', but even calling it a cake does not really describe it accurately.  I know of nothing to liken it to and a poor attempt would be a cross between an almond meringue, baked marzipan with a much lighter texture, but none of this is really true or correct.  You will just have to take my word for it, and hopefully have a go at making it, that it is unique and tasty.  If you have a sweet tooth and are OK with almonds, try this out!

A kransekake is made up of 18 individual rings that are laid on top of each other to form a circular tower.  This cake is made for any celebration and features at most weddings, christenings, confirmations, birthdays, Christmas' and any other celebration that you can think of.  The beauty of this cake, other than looking stunning on a table,  is that people come up and serve themselves, making this for an English Christmas ideal for a Boxing Day buffet.

No one really knows how the kransekae came about or indeed why it is so popular, but one story that is doing the rounds states that it all began in Greece.  The kransekake as we know it derives form a similar cake called overflødighetshorn, (horn of plenty) as it is basically a kranskake made out of rings but laid on its side to form a hollow horn and filled with chocolate and sweets.  So why Greece, well Crete actually.  The myth has it that the nymph Amalthea, raised Zeus (the God) in a cave and fed him goat milk. As thanks, she received the horn of abundance from Zeus where all her wishes came true.  A horn was chosen, as the symbol from the goat horn, from the animal that had given Zeus his milk.  From this time on the 'horn of plenty' was born and became a symbol of abundance, fruitfulness and fertility around the world.    From historical references and paintings it would appear that the horn of plenty, otherwise known as, cornucopia, first started to make its appearance as food around the mid 1700s. And it was here that the kranskake has its origins.  Whatever the true story, the appearance of this cake in Norway and Denmark too is wide spread.

Kransekake - Wreath cake - makes one, or about 40 baking tray lengths of 'sticks'
Pre heat oven to 170C

500g ground almonds, ground preferably with skin still on, this adds to the colour
500g icing sugar
2 egg whites

fine breadcrumbs or semolina, to stop sticking
melted butter for greasing
icing sugar for decoration
  1. Grind the almonds with the skins on too, if using bought whole almonds.
  2. Add icing sugar to the ground almonds.
  3. Add both egg whites to the dry mixture.
  4. Using both hands mix the dough together.  This is quite a sticky stage, be warned!  It will feel like the mixture will never come together, but I promise it will.

5.  Form the dough mixture into a rough  sausage
6.  For those with the both the metal
     piping equipment and round tins, you need
     to first melt the butter and then with a brush
     grease each of the moulds.  Finally spraying a
     thin layer of breadcrumbs on the tins.  This
     stops the mixture from sticking to the tins and
     allows you to remove them, hopefully,
     without breaking them! 
     Add the mixture into the piper quickly and
     smoothly fill each mould, being careful to
     ensure the mixture touches and joins to form
     a complete ring.  For those of you who do
     not have this equipment you have two
     choices:  a) roll out individual sausages of
     about 1-1.5 cm in diameter and place on a
     baking sheet with greaseproof paper.  The 
     mix will not swell so you can place these sausage 'sticks' fairly tightly on the sheet.  There
     should be enough mix to make about 40 lengths of a baking sheet.  The second option is long
     winded  b)  make free-form rings, rolling the dough into sausages, make the smallest first to 
     guide ring size progression. Make sure the rings overlap in size so they can rest on each other
     creating a pyramid shape when baked and cooled.
7.  Bake in the oven at 170C for about 10 mins, but check as you do not want them to burn.  Cool
     on rack.
8.  At this point you have two options a) freeze the cake until you need it, as this will make it
     lovely and chewy, so can make it some days in advance, or b) assemble it.
9.  To assemble place largest ring on the plate and stack each ring on top.  You can use an aquavit
     bottle inside the rings and build them up around it, to ensure they do not topple over.  If you do
     not have aquavit, any medium spirit or wine bottle will do!

10.    Once assembled it is customary to ice each ring in a curved zig zag pattern and to add mini
         crackers, flags, Twist (Norwegian equivalent of Quality street) to jazz up and give the cake a
         feeling of abundance.  My cake below has not had the icing treatment, as it is still several days
         before I want to use it.  I will ice it on the day, or perhaps the night before.
11.    A great tip/trick to make sure the cake becomes soft and chewy on the inside is to add fresh
         white bread all around the outside of the cake and inside it too.  Cover it with a couple of plastic
         bags until ready to serve.  But remember to take the bread away, the number of times I have
         taken the bread away from the outside, but have left it inside in the hollow of the cake are too
         many to think about.  Doesn't look good, don't do it!  Best to leave the bread with the cake for
         24 hours if you can.

To serve, place the kransekake, in a place where everyone can reach it and you lift it carefully up and take from the bottom rings, breaking them up and taking what you desire.  This cake never lasts long as it is so moorish.  For those who are making it with just the sticks of kransekake a modern twist is to melt chocolate and dip them in, Norway's version of a Spanish churro!

It may seem like a phaff, but this cake is so delicious, it really should be made and tried.  And is not a phaff, just something very Norwegian and unique!

Christmas pudding, craft style!

17th December

Mamma is in residence so Christmas proper can start, we need to work out what to eat over the festive period, make lists, order and buy the food and drink,  finish off projects, entertain people, write this blog, buy a tree and decorate it, finish wrapping presents, buy the odd forgotten present(!) and have a good jolly in London with a Christmas sing along which has now become a new household tradition and not forget to breathe!  Anyone else recognise the scenario?

The thing with loving Christmas so much and going to lots of effort means that you become known for it as it stands out a little from the norm, there are many of us out there.  Most enjoy Christmas, many love it and nearly everyone decorates, but the Christmas freaks are a little thinner on the ground, and I confess, you probably already know, I am a Christmas freak, but VERY particular about what I like and what fits in with our Christmas household.

Over the years many have brought Christmas gifts to our house, some bought, some made, some edible and others drinkable!  and all very welcome, but there are the exceptions that break the rule and become part of my yearly hoard of items that are brought back out year after year.  Several years ago now, a friend of mine in the village knitted a tea cosy and gave it to me saying, "I just had to make it, knew I would never use it and thought, yes, I know the perfect recipient."  That recipient was me!  Very glad I am of the tea cosy too...a knitted Christmas pudding tea cosy. Now I know this is not Norwegian, but this is not a blog solely on Norway, it is about my eclectic life and having been brought up in the UK to parents not born here, we have our own country traditions for many things, but it can truly be said that my family have totally embraced British life too.  So Christmas for us is not just Scandinavian, we are British too, so Christmas puddings which do not grace Norwegian tables, most certainly grace ours and are ALWAYS homemade, we love stir up Sunday in this household.

So very grateful for this home made knitted present
A similar tea cosy can be found at:

If you could see me now you would laugh, I suspect.  I am sitting here in my PJ's on a wet December morning, before work, looking out of the French doors onto the village beyond, hoping the computer and desk are shielding me in return from the outside world, also wearing my favourite Christmas hat.  It is keeping me toasty warm and I do not need to crank on the heating as nothing is being lost from the top of my head.  In fact I could be a bit too warm!  This hat?  Homemade of course.  Another knitted present from a fellow Norwegian.  She actually knitted it for one of my children who collects hats, but I seem to have taken it over the last couple of years.  This hat?  A Christmas pudding hat of course!

I think my hat tasteful and not too over the top, it is a typical beanie design and so not too blingy and silly.  Hope you agree. 
To find a similar knitted pattern should you wish to join me in keeping your head warm and festive at this time of year, you could use this pattern, it is not the same, but very similar:
I absolutely love this crocheted version, but you do have to pay for the pattern:
Tree decorations
There are so many patterns out there for Christmas puddings, we seem to have a love affair with them.  The Norwegians have their knitted Christmas baubles, why not have knitted Christmas pudding decorations, a pattern can be found here for the knitters:
 and a pattern here for the crocheters amongst you:
Place setting
I had four of these, but people love them SOOOO much that I now only have one left, thank goodness, so I can share with you, so again, I have more to add to the wish list, as these are lovely to have in a bowl or by a table place setting, as little table presents.  What am I talking about?  Hollow knitted mini Christmas puddings, with a Ferreo Rocher chocolate inside!  How wonderful is that?  Everyone who sees one, oohs and ahhhs.  The pattern that was used was from Raverly and is free to download, you know you want to, do it now!!
Not forgetting there are many of you who do not knit or crochet, I have neglected my sewing machine these past few months and am itching to get back to it, something that I shall rectify in the new year, these look fun to make too:
For hand sewing and using felt and basic stitches, these would be very quick and easy to make, a child friendly version, or those averse to a bit of sewing, all could be assembled with craft glue and no sewing involved!  If you really need instructions, here is a good pattern with a twist, the puddings are heart shaped, you know us Norwegians, we ♥ hearts at Christmas:
 For a 3D version of a sewn Christmas pudding, i think this is pretty cute, found on the 'stitchcraftcreate' website:

I am truly looking forward to eating Christmas pudding on the 25th with family, just cannot wait!


Cookie making number 6

18th December

You can tell Christmas is almost upon us when you are about to make the sixth of the the seven 'smakaker' for Christmas.  Today's make are Brune kaker, (Brown cakes). As with many of the Norwegian Christmas bakes, spices feature strongly  and this one is no exception.  Today's main spice  however has not been used in any great strength so far and it is...cloves, ground cloves.  The smell when you make these cookies is just phenomenal, really Christmassy.  The cookies need to be made in advance, just like the pepperkake and need to rest in the fridge for at least two days!  Yes, you read that right, two days minimum, but longer if you can.  The dough will last if wrapped well in clingfilm for up to a month,so is a great one to have in the fridge and then just bake when you have unexpected visitors, as they cook in about 7 minutes and you can serve up warm cookies creating a beautiful smell within the house at the same time, how welcoming is that?

These cookies leave a real warmth in the tummy,
almost like gløgg (mulled wine)

Brune kaker makes about 100
Oven:  175C/350F

250g salted butter
125g golden syrup
250g dark muscovado sugar
50g blanched almonds
100g mixed candid peel
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
500g plain flour

Place almonds in boiling water, once cooled a bit,
POP the shells off!

♥  Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup, stir til smooth and dissolved.  Cool.
♥  Chop almonds, but blanch first if necessary.  (To blanch almonds, boil water and place almonds in a bowl and cover with boiled water.  Leave for 5 mins and then take out an almonds and pinch the end of it, the almond, should just POP out of it's shell.  For us as a family, this is a Christmas chore a little like crossing the bottoms of Brussel sprouts!)  Once the mixture is cooled a little, add the spices, chopped almonds and candid peel.

♥  Add in flour and knead till a smooth dough.

♥  Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts and form 4 rolled sausage shapes, approx, 4cm in diameter.  Cover each sausage dough with clingfilm and place in fridge til needed.

♥  Preheat oven and remove dough from fridge.  Slice each sausage very thinly with a sharp knife.

♥  Place cookies on a greased and lined baking tray, they bake for about 6-7 minutes.  These cookies burn very easily, so watch them carefully.

♥  Cool and enjoy.  These can be kept for about 4 weeks in an air tight tin.

  Hope you enjoy your Christmas baking.  

Knitted Christmas baubles

Arne and Carlos' Christmas tree, they suggest for a 2m tree,
you would need 50 Christmas balls

16th December

Two very famous and now 'trendy' knitters in Norway are men. Nothing new there, we have our very own Kaffe Fassett.  By the way, did any one pop along to his fabulous 'A Life in Colour' Exhibition in the Autumn at the Fashion and textile museum in London? It was a true wonder of colour and a feast for the eyes. Will make a note to write a post on that in the new year, a real treat it was. Any way I digress, other than to say, men can be and often are brilliant at what is commonly thought of as womens' crafts. The two Norwegian men in question? Arne and Carlos of course, no need for second names, they are that famous in the world of knitting.

Arne began to knit when he was four years old and as expected, was taught by his Bestemor (grandmother). He and Carlos joined forces with the Japanese brand Comme des Garcons in 2008 and brought traditional Scandinavian knitting into the world of fashion, making it trendy again. It was from here that their popularity grew and they suddenly 'exploded' onto the knitting scene.   In 2010 they produced a book that has single handledly created more Christmas decorations to be hand made in Norway, I suspect, than anything else; they published, Julekuglar, now also thank fully in English and known as,  55 Christmas Balls to Knit.
A 'must' for the Scandi lover

For those of you who have not come across this, they have devised a knitted bauble pattern and have used both traditional and contemporary patterns to decorate these with. So many people have now knitted these, that some have nothing but these knitted baubles on their trees, others have just one or two hanging somewhere in the house.  They are fun and fiddly to make.  You knit these on double pointed needles, a trick in itself, but once you manage one, they are fairly quick and addictive. As Carlos himself says of knitting, it is the, "most addictive of the different crafts," and he may be right.

Above are two of the 55 designs that can be found in the book. The traditional 'Julegris', Christmas pig, always found in Norway in the shops made out of marzipan. As with any craft, watching the patterns grow and see how they will turn out is great fun, give it a try!

The demand and popularity of these Christmas balls, meant that Arne and Carlos were also in demand for magazine interviews and people just wanted to know as much about them as they could.  They themselves see their 'buisness' as selling a life style to the public as well as knitting.  The two of them live on an old farm, raise chickens, are trying to renovate a very old house and create a huge landscaped garden based on English designs.  As they say, for them the bigger the project the better. However, when it comes to knitting, the reason they believe the Christmas balls have taken off, is because they are relatively quick to make, unlike jumpers for example.

So, the Norwegians demanded more from Arne and Carlos and they next produced an Advent calender of Christmas balls, this was an actual calender count down in the month of December, with a new ball pattern for each day, how fantastic an idea is that?

But the Norwegians did not stop there and demanded more from Arne and Carlos, so they eventually produced a book on Easter balls too...

In Norway, many decorations are hung from branches and twigs, I will in a few days show you how I decorate my dining room with lots and lots of tiny knitted 'nisse'.  But in the mean time, below are three of the knitted Christmas balls on the holly tree outside my house.

This you tube clip, is from Finland and is an interview with both Arne and Carlos, talking about their Christmas 'balls'!!

Knitted balls
The below link is to an American site where lots of people have posted photographs of their own versions of the Christmas balls.  Both chaps agree that their book is for people to directly copy and use the patterns, but also as a book of inspiration for everyone to have a go at designing their own patterns to be shown on the balls.  Are you up for the challenge?  Have a go, make their balls and then design your own.!/pages/Trafalgar-Square-Knitting-and-Weaving-Books/292785458494

For those that want to have a try before buying their book, a similar free pattern can be found here:

Crochet balls
I have not forgotten the crocheters amongst you.   Lucy, yes, I mention her often at Attic 24, has created some quite small balls that could be made in abundance to decorate a tree, could look very fetching and am tempted by this myself.  These balls are incredibly quick to hook up, probably less than 15 minutes each, you can make hundreds very quickly indeed.  As always her photo tutorials are very easy to follow.

For larger crocheted balls, you could do no worse than try this pattern. I googled it today, had a quick hook up of it and found it quick and easy, one ball made in about half an hour.

Finally a note on Arne and Carlos, they are still designing and have just produced another book which is a feast for the eyes, perfect projects to begin in the new year, ready for spring time and spending lazy days in the garden, a sneak peak... (just look at the blanket bottom left!)

Have a great Monday everyone!

Third Advent in Christmas & Crafting (Part 3)

15th December

Norwegians have always been a crafty lot?!?! And have always knitted and crocheted.  Although not a dying trend, its hay day has been and gone, but a slow burn second revolution of the next generation are beginning  to pick up their needles and hooks.  Most little girls in Norway will have homemade clothes for their dolls and blankets for their teddies, lovingly knitted or crotcheted by their Besetmors and I was no exception.  I was dressed in jumpers you would die for now and even had a few hand knitted dresses right up to the age of about 8. I can particularly remember one that used to swish around my knees and another beautiful pastel one.  How I wish I could knit as well and undertake such  large projects.  My two children were also dressed in traditional jumpers and cardis with the typical Scandinavian pattern.  I have lovingly kept them and hope that maybe in the future they may be brought out again.  Coffee mornings are the norm in Norway and most ladies of a certain age will always come along with their handicraft project and work away whilst chatting.  Here in the UK, apart for a select group of women, that would not occur.  This is perhaps why there are so many Norwegian Christmas decorations, the Norwegians are crafty!

Stockings over the fire place.  Bunting line is
crocheted, quick and easy.

As I mentioned earlier, my knitting skills leave much to be desired and so I did not dare to attempt these beautiful mini stockings in typical Scandi red and white, until mamma was in residence, just in case I needed help and advice.  I did!  Lucky I waited.   I would suggest these are not a good idea for a beginner, they are fiddly and you need to concentrate on the pattern, so wait till you are more confident. Old hands at knitting will find these very quick and easy and VERY ADDICTIVE.

The beautiful mini stocking pattern can be found at Little Cotton Rabbits made by the talented Julie Williams, her blog is well worth a visit for those of you who have not come across her.  

Close up of some of the different patterns

For me crocheting is fast and fun and suits my style of life.  This heart garland came about after I made a 5 m long big heart bunting in the summer of bright bold colours.  I loved it and wanted to make something like it for Christmas.  I scoured the 'net' and found a glorious  and unusual heart pattern that was crocheted and decided all the hearts would be red and the bunting line green.  All set and ready to go and BANG!  I managed the first heart and then after that blank, could not get the pattern to work anymore.  Something just stuck with me, and so in a huff I abandoned it.  But that niggling feeling of wanting a heart garland for Christmas would not go away and so I decided with the time I had left there was only one solution:  go mini and here it is, think it worked out rather sweet and is a fitting size for the small fire place, it was obviously meant to be.

For a similar heart pattern you could use this one:

Crocheted mini heart garland

A splash of Christmas red, cheers a room up

In Norway as I mentioned in my very first posting the kitchen plays a central role and is decorated from December 1st.  A quick and easy way to decorate without taking over is to edge any shelves that you have with ribbon.  In Norway, you can buy such ribbon just for this purpose, but anything would do.  The photograph on the right shows how it should look with matching ribbon and the photograph on the left shows a selection of different ribbons that could be used.  Note I have added a black pom pom ribbon on one of the shelves, Christmas does not have to be red, but I think it is best! 
Have a go and Scandi bling your kitchen shelves!

Tonight we light the third candle and know that Christmas really is just a few days away, I am sooo excited