Wool Maker Lane

knitting, spinning and life with alpacas


Intercultural Cables

On a recent trip to the UK I was fortunate enough to buy a mesmerising book by Elsebeth Lavold called Viking Patterns for Knitting.


In her research Lavold studied the interwoven artwork found on old Viking artefacts in Scandinavia and England.   She translated these patterns into knitted designs and  incorporated them into beautiful garments many of which, I am sure, will stand the tests of time.

Down through history there is evidence of many cultures, Arabic, Indian, Roman etc., using interlacing cables in their art work.  The Celtic knotwork that we are so familiar with today most likely arises from the ornate illustrations, produced by monks during the 8th Century, such as those found in the gospels like The Book of Kells.  Soon after this period the Vikings arrived in Ireland.  Lavold acknowledges the similarities between Celtic knotwork and designs created during the Viking era explaining that while Vikings came into contact with many cultures, rather than copy new designs that they would come across, they would incorporate new aspects of design into their own.

Much of the book is devoted to charts and illustrated swatches of the cable work that she came across.  She also explains a method that she devised of picking up additional stitches to keep the design true to the original.  I couldn’t wait to have a try:


Lavold’s chart was really easy to follow.  The swatch begins and ends with angles which is new to me.  The inspiration for this ‘lattice’ work came from a gravestone in Hellvi, Gotland, in Sweden.