If you’ve ever had a course in creative writing, you’ve probably heard of the adage “Show, don’t tell”. This time, however, I simply have to tell a little story before I can show you my new sweater…
In the first decade of the 11th century, something remarkable happened. European colonists, long before the famous Columbus would even be born, found a mysterious, vast and rich continent to the west of the Ocean. These events are described in The Saga of Eirik the Red, whose main character is, you might have guessed it, not Eirik the Red. Though Eirik does discover Greenland over the span of a few chapters, the mainland Americas are left to another generation. Instead, Eirik is the common link between the five protagonists who actually do discover America: his sons Leif and Thorvald* Eiriksson, his son-in-law Thorfin* Karlsefni, his servant Thorhall* the Pagan, but most remarkably, his daughter Freydis.
*There’s a nice rythm to these names, isn’t there?
After Leif Eiriksson is blown off course by a storm and thus accidentally discovers Vinland, it’s Freydis and her husband Karlsefni who instigate a new expedition to find and colonize the land. They leave together with Thorhall and Thorvald, and a great group of men and women. After a long quest, they find a suitable place to settle. There, they are surprised to find Skraelingar already living in this new land. Swiftly, the Norse settlers manage to set up trade with these natives, trading Norse red-dyed cloth for fur and food. One day, however, a Norse bull, driven mad by the constant waving of red cloth, escapes and attacks the native traders, who promptly flee the scene.
The Skraelingar come back, this time to wage war on the settlers. The bull, they reason, was one of the Norsemen and attacked them on purpose. The fight is fierce: the natives, though lightly armed, have an overwhelming numerous advantage over the settlers. The fierce Vikings are routed and turn to flee, until the first lady of the expedition, the by now pregnant Freydis, comes out of her hut, scolding her male relatives: “Such gallant lads as you, I thought you would have knocked them on the head like cattle. Why, if I had a weapon, I think I could put up a better fight than any of you!”. Freydis proceeds to pick up the sword of a fallen Viking, and indeed puts up quite the fight. When she is finally in danger of being overwhelmed, she put up a final show of defiance: according to the saga, Freydis “pulled out her breasts from under her clothes, and slapped the naked sword on them, at which the Skraelings took fright and ran of to their boats”.
Through this unconventional act of heroism, Freydis saved the Norse settlers. Deciding however that this land was apparently already ruled by a foreign people, the Vikings turn homewards to Greenland. Although the pattern is actually named after a different Icelandic Saga, I thought it fitting to name my latest Lopi-sweater after this rare Viking heroine.
The pictures of this sweater were taken after a particularly heavy snowfall earlier this month. Here at the Treehouse we made the most of this glorious occasion by having lots of magical walks in the snow under a starry night sky, having even more snow fights, getting epically stuck in train traffic and seizing the opportunity to take project pictures in the snow. Sadly it was already on it’s way out when we took these, but ah well, you can’t have it all. Aside from this particular snow week and the snow we had during Christmas, our winter has been confusingly mild. Since January, February and the beginning of March are usually our coldest months it may well be that we’re in for some more snow later. We’ll see.
I hope you liked my little story about Freydis Eiriksdottir, if you are into (old) literature of the legend and myth kind, I definitely recommend it. I certainly plan on reading more of the Icelandic and Scandinavian Viking sagas. Similarly I plan to make many more Icelandic sweaters during the rest of my merry life, but that should come as no surprise.