Return to Oslo

This week I took a short trip back to Oslo for what is arguably one of the most important Norwegian events of the year: the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. Unfortunately I like to work through my blog chronologically, so you’ll have to wait a post or two before I talk about that. Sorry!

So, starting from beginning, I took the train down to Oslo from Trondheim and it was yet again another lovely experience. There was however one key difference between this time and the last time: the amount of sunshine I was exposed to. Because of the decreasing amount of daylight and the fact that I was moving North (where we have less daylight) to South (where they have more daylight) I effectively had a longer day with a very long sunrise and sunset. Unlike my last trip, I was able to witness the start and the close of the day all from the train. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed chasing the sun and basking in the extra two hours or so of daylight. Oh, and it helped that the scenery still remains breathtaking.

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Lud, one of the Roving Scholars, and his wife Susan were my hosts in Oslo and they helped me pick out a few new spots to explore in the city. Once I got settled in, Susan and I went to one of Oslo’s bigger Christmas markets, or julemarked, on Karl Johans Gate (Oslo’s main street). While I abstained from buying things, it was wonderful to walk around and soak in the sights and smells. There was of course knitwear (hats, gloves, scarfs, sweaters, etc.) for sale but there were also animal pelts, tourist trinkets, and food. I adore food and was excited to see the caramelized nuts, baked goods, chocolate, reindeer, cheese, and even moose burgers on display. While I was tempted to try the moose burgers I ended up deciding against it due to the excellent meal that Susan had already fed me.

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Knitting: Or Becoming the Grandma that I Not So Secretly Already Am

Knitwear is huge in Norway. In fact, I’ve pretty much been craving a Norwegian sweater since I arrived. They just look awesome and ridiculously warm. They also happen to be ridiculously expensive, but I figure that’s nothing that some saving up and a Christmas sale can’t solve.

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Images compliments of Google.

But, going back to knitwear. I like to think that knitwear encompasses two very Norwegian obsessions:

  1. Wool
  2. Knitting–sorry I know this one is a bit of a letdown

Since I arrived in August, when the weather was actually warm enough for people to wear shorts, people have been telling me about the benefits of wool. Personally, I have always intensely disliked wool because I find it incredibly itchy.* While the quality of wool has definitely improved since I was a kid, it is still a material that I tend to avoid at all costs. My Norwegian friends maintain that I will come to embrace wool once the temperature drops a bit more. I remain skeptical. I currently believe that synthetic materials and down are my true best friends.

And then there is actually making the knitwear. There are a few really well regarded brands that people buy in Norway, but from what I’ve been told people tend to wear what their grandmothers knit them. I haven’t really seen too many young people knitting, but I have seen my share of elderly ladies knitting up a storm. My co-teacher Nancy also told me that it used to be pretty common to have students knitting in class, and that some students admitted to having difficulty concentrating unless they were knitting or doing something with their hands.

Knitting also seems to be fairly ingrained in Norwegian culture, and certain areas even have their own knitting patterns. The one below is the one that’s associated with Sør-Trøndelag, the region that Trondheim is in.

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So, keeping in mind that I am supposed to engage with Norwegian culture, I went down to the yarn store sometime in August to stock up on a few knitting essentials. Now I wouldn’t say that I’m a good knitter by any stretch of the imagination, but I can create things that aren’t shapeless masses. I also got lucky very early on in my knitting endeavors. One of my colleagues is pregnant and let slip that if I wanted to get in some practice, she’d be overjoyed if she could get some baby leg warmers. This was great for a few reasons:

  1. I could practice something on a very small scale. I will also say that the last time I held a newborn was circa 2006 so I was truly guestimating when it came to the dimensions of this baby. Luckily my co-worker thought I didn’t do a bad job.
  2. My co-worker more or less told me that if something vaguely resembled a leg warmer she would be happy. Working with low expectations is great!
  3. The great thing with working with low expectations AND making two of something means that you basically get a second chance to avoid all the mistakes you made the first time–or in my case try to avoid those mistakes.

Anyways, pictures of my attempts below. The thing on the left is an infinity scarf and the green things on the right are leg warmers.

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So while knitting is definitely not something that should be thought of as a future career, I’ve actually found it to be quite fun. Plus, it makes me more grandmotherly than I already am. Other traits that my friends have pointed out that make me similar to their grandparents:

  1. Hating cold weather
  2. A healthy appreciation of sleep and naps
  3. Occasionally getting frustrated enough at a business to send in a complaint letter

Though at this point I think it’s really just the knitting that makes me a grandparent since most of my peers tend to firmly believe in points one and two.

*Yes I know that you normally wear wool over other clothing, but I prefer clothing that I can wear regardless of how many other layers I have on.