#Pieperfest14: Decorah, Iowa

Downtown Decorah. Yes, there is a stoplight.
Downtown Decorah. Yes, there is a stoplight.

We continued our tour of cousins and drove from Des Moines to Decorah—after a stop in Bondurant to find Auntie J’s old home place, then north on I-35 and then across the state to the northeast corner in driving rain. We arrived later than we expected and a little emotionally wrung out from navigating in the rain and on unfamiliar roads. We checked into the historic hotel right on main street and then met our cousins and their friends for happy hour.

We had a very happy hour trying locally brewed beer and sharing stories with cousins Terri and Chuck and their friends Darrel and Betty. We then got the windshield tour of Decorah including Luther College, where many of the buildings were designed by Uncle Jack Thompson (now deceased).

We went for another big meal at McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita restaurant. Jeanette and I were beginning to feel like pigs being fattened for bacon and chops. I am going to have to figure out how to navigate the caloric landmines before I visit again.

Decorah takes great pride in their Nordic heritage. The high school mascot is the Vikings and the highlight on the summer calendar is Nordic Days. My cousins Terri and Chuck have a gem of a gift shop specializing in Norwegian gifts called Vanberia.

The next morning we met Terri and Chuck for breakfast (more bacon) at the hotel restaurant, Restauration, a spin off the name of the boat that brought the first Norwegian immigrants to America. Jeanette joined them for a quick trip to the cemetery to honor loved ones and I stayed behind to handle some memos and other work.

We met up and went shopping. Jeanette found a dress shop she really liked and I found the Blue Heron Knittery. We each made additional contributions to the local economy.

A wonderful gem of a museum on the Norwegian immigration experience.
A wonderful gem of a museum on the Norwegian immigration experience.

We said our goodbyes and then checked out the Norwegian-American museum. Vesterheim is an excellent small museum that focuses on the story of the Norwegian emigration to the USA. I also took a photo of main street (at top of post) as we got ready to leave town because it was heartwarming to see an intact small town not ravaged by edge of town Walmarts or strip malls.

Beautiful ceramic flowers made by artists in Bergen make up the special exhibit on the main floor.
Beautiful ceramic flowers made by artists in Bergen make up the special exhibit on the main floor.

A real whirlwind trip, we then drove back to Des Moines and on to Stuart.

3 Great Places to Buy Wool in Oslo for the Hip and Chic Knitter

If you knit (or crochet) and you are visiting Oslo for a day or more, then you have three great options for wool shopping. In Norway, if you see “strikke” on the shop window then it is probably a wool or yarn store as we know it in North America.

If you are cruising the Nordic countries and docking briefly in Oslo, there are two shops within walking distance of the port. The first, Strikkedilla (translated as Knitting Craze) is conveniently located in the Oslo City mall (a highrise next to the main train station). The mall includes a grocery store, so be sure to check out the aisle dedicated to nut butters! The knit shop is the smallest of the three and jam-packed with colorful fun projects children would like to wear.

Glasmagasinet at Stortorvet 9
Glasmagasinet department store

The second shop is my favorite of the three, Husfliden. It is inside the department store Glasmagasinet at Stortorvet 9. I was a little befuddled at first by this idea of a department store; it was a bit more like a mall without walls. In the basement I found the yarn, buttons, traditional costumes, and many other beautiful textiles. It was a feast for the eyes and fingers. They also offered readymade Oleana sweaters. If you only have time to browse one store, make it Den Norske Husfliden.IMG_1010 IMG_1009 IMG_1013

If you are taking a day trip to see the Vigeland Sculpture Park, there is a yarn shop a stone’s throw from the metro station (Majorstuen) for the sculpture gardens. I did not spot Tjorven at Valkyriegata 17 right away, so I have included a photo. The clerks were friendly and the yarn lucious. They did not offer any patterns in English (they call them recipes). I realized too late that it would have been smart to look for some patterns on Ravelry before I went shopping. The store clerk showed me a website that has language choices including English. These are the same Norwegian inspired (modern, not traditional) patterns featured in Drops magazine.

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There are also two readymade wool shops that offer beautiful, albeit expensive, sweaters and other wool garments. Dale of Norway at Tullins gate 5 offers more classical sweaters and made me want to go skiing. Oleana garments are inspired by traditional Norwegian design updated with a modern twist and a more colorful palette.

It is Dah-ley, not Dale like Yale next to the Hard Rock Cafe in Oslo. No yarn for sale here.
It is Dah-ley, not Dale like Yale next to the Hard Rock Cafe in Oslo. No yarn for sale here.

One challenge with yarn shopping in Norway is the patterns are almost all in Norwegian, of course. I bought a couple of patterns with yarn to make them, thinking that between Google Translate, friends who speak Norwegian and my knitting experience I could figure them out. Hah! Not yet. When I return to Norway I am taking some patterns that I want to make and then shopping for wool. All of these shops are perfect if you need a tool, or inspiration.IMG_1008

I visited these three shops in July 2013, and I have just checked and they are all still in business. I also used Linda Marveng’s blog post as my guide. She lists additional shops and I visited a few others; however, I am including my favorites here. Linda Marveng is also enthused about Norway Designs, just know that there is nothing knitting related in the shop.

Norway can be one of the most expensive countries to visit in Europe, so I was very pleased to find wool prices a comparative bargain.  Shops are both plentiful and the ones mentioned here carry a good variety of quality yarn. It is good to be in a country where a lot of people still knit. There were some awesome patterns, if I only spoke Norwegian.