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An Icelandic Endless Knot Design to Stitch

This design is entirely worked in long-arm cross-stitch, the most common stitch found in the extant traditional embroideries of Iceland.

Justin Allan-Spencer a month ago

An Icelandic Endless Knot Design to Stitch Primary Image

A pattern recorded in the Skaftafell Book, which was drawn by an eighteenth-century Icelandic farmer, and colors found in a seventeenth-century bridal bench cushion in the collection of the National Museum of Iceland inspired Justin Allan-Spencer’s beautiful Icelandic endless-knot design. Photograph by Matt Graves.

The valhnútur, Icelandic for endless knot, is a design motif that appears in several handwritten Icelandic manuscripts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This needlework version is inspired by a pattern recorded in the Skaftafell Book, drawn by an eighteenth-century farmer, Jón Einarsson. The colors for this design were inspired by a seventeenth-century bridal bench cushion in the collection of the National Museum of Iceland. This design is particularly fitting for a wedding—the two entwined knots symbolize the married couple.

Traditional Icelandic embroidery was typically worked with plant-dyed wool yarns. The Icelandic yarn manufacturer Ístex, maker of Lopi yarns, produces a laceweight yarn offered in a twenty-six-color palette that is a close facsimile, but it is hard to use with any readily available modern evenweave fabric. Appletons Wool crewel-weight (two-ply) yarn, available in more than four hundred colors, works well.

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