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Poulsbo Sons member youngest in country to earn honor

Hannah Graves, 17, holds a collection of pins and awards received from the Sons of Norway for her cultural skills studies. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Hannah Graves, 17, holds a collection of pins and awards received from the Sons of Norway for her cultural skills studies.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

17-year-old Hannah Graves a master in Norwegian skill.

POULSBO — Articulate and well-poised, Hannah Graves tussles her family’s Newfoundland, Caesar, who’s lazily guarding her Poulsbo home’s front door.

Hannah, a home-schooled student, will embark on her senior year of high school this year. She’s preparing to apply to colleges, where she’s eyeing academic courses on history.

Incidentally, at the ripe age of 17, Hannah has already made a little history of her own.

After nearly three years of efforts, she has become the youngest person in the United States to earn a Sons of Norway master’s pin in cultural skills.

To achieve the honor, Hannah mastered three skill levels in three different cultural areas tying into the Norwegian culture.

She started with folk dancing and soon added weaving and cooking into the fold.

“I think it’s fun,” she said, despite the fact earning the commendation included submitting essays with her projects that at times could be a bit “tedious.”

Her interest in weaving germinated after a visiting Norwegian dance troupe sported wear she wished she had. Hannah struck a deal with her mother, Sons of Norway youth director Joanne Graves, in hopes of netting her own Telemark bounad: If Hannah learned to do the trimmings for the piece, her mother would make the rest.

“And the rest is history,” Joanne Graves said with a laugh.

Now, Hannah said she’s found activities that, despite their foreign origins, come in handy.

“It’s fun to actually be able to sit down and start with your string and make something,” she said.

Being able to bake something other than chocolate chip cookies isn’t a bad skill to boast either, she added.

Dancing offers her a chance to be with others her age.

“You can talk and do it at the same time,” she said. “It’s fun to socialize with friends, it’s a reason to get together.”

And her affinity for cooking was triggered by the “ladies in the lodge” commonly found making krumkake and lefse for various local events.

After joining the lodge four years ago, she began to join in the tasty fun.

Lending them a helping hand “was really the first time I made Scandinavian stuff,” she said.

Later that year, her partly Norwegian grandmother gave her a krumkake iron for Christmas.

Joanne Graves said “ladies in the lodge,” along with many members and instructors, helped to make Hannah’s honorable accomplishment happen.

“They’ve been so supportive and encouraging of the young people,” she said.

Hannah has also studied language at the lodge.

She said she’s now hoping to earn her second master’s bar before she graduates high school.

And it seems that could easily happen.

“Quite often I’ll be supposed to be doing school work and it’ll get boring and the knitting will be sitting right there or the weaving and I’ll go and do that,” she said with a smile.

Other cultural skills areas she could master include rosemaling, knitting, genealogy and music. Handcrafts are her favorite.

And though she’s yet to go to Norway — perhaps after college, she said — the country’s culture is one in which she’s come to love to indulge.

“It’s so rich,” she said. “It’s easy for anyone to get involved.”

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