Ostrobothnian textiles

We visited four museums during the Nordic Knitting Symposium 2014. The first one was Myrbergsgården, one of the museums in my municipality:


There are 17 buildings on the grounds. The museum is known for its large textile collection with more than 5000 items. It has an especially large collection of embroidery, as many women earned their living by selling embroidery at the beginning of the 20th century. There’s also lots of crocheted lace for bed linen, knitted socks and other garments. This is my favourite closet in the musum:


You all know how difficult stripes are! Susanne Hansson taught a class in designing and knitting jogless stripes at the Symposium. This closet with its bolster-cases was much admired!

The next museum was Stundars, where I use to spin in the summers. I didn’t take any photos, so lets go on to the municipality Malax and have a look at Brinkens Museum, where the staff had displayed knitted socks, hats, mittens, sweaters, and more.


Yes, the winters in Finland are cold! You really need warm clothes. Why not make them pretty even if you can’t see them under the pants and skirts? You can at least see a glimpse of a beautiful sock when the women lift their skirts to step over a threshold or climb the stairs!


The Malax sweater is knitted from rather thick yarn in the Finnsheep’s natural colours.


Knitted and crocheted hats and mittens, and a small bag:


Mittens and gloves with influences from Norway. The big mittens have human hair knitted into them for stronger wear. They also resist water well.


A knitted and crocheted underskirt that was popular all over Ostrobothnia at the beginning of the 20th century:


I feel tempted to make one myself…

This is one of the small bed chambers with it’s nicely made bed. This way of using crocheted lace was common in many places. I like it, but being a person who allows the dogs to sleep in my bed I don’t find it very practical 🙂 The carpet has a stripe called the “Malax stripe”: there has to be a black stripe in the middle. The rag rugs often covered the whole floor in the winter to prevent draught.


There was much more to see at Brinken, but let’s go on to the museum in Korsnäs. In this small municipality an amazing sweater was designed in the 19th century. It’s unique, as it’s partly crocheted and partly knitted. The women also developed a way of knitting where as many as four knitters work on the same sweater together, sitting in a circle, each knitting her own row and advancing in the same speed as the others. When we visited Korsnäs there were three knitters at work:


The crocheted parts must be made by one person at a time:


The Korsnäs sweater used to be a man’s sweater, but nowadays it’s used by both men and women. It’s often made into a cardigan now, as it’s easier to wear that way.


I want to show Gretel Dahlberg, who researched and wrote a book about the Korsnäs sweater that was published in 1987, “Korsnäströjor förr och nu”. If you want to purchase it, please contact the museum.


Also Korsnäs museum has a collection of crocheted lace:


But most of all they crocheted the parts for the sweaters, and suspenders, purses, even reins for the horses.



The reins where used when going to church in one of the fancy sleighs and chaises, painted in bright colours. These are from Myrbergsgården:


There are astonishingly many textiles in the small museums in Ostrobothnia. You also get to see them, which is not always possible in the big museums. It’s usually possible to get a private showing if you contact the museum first. They are not open in the winters, as they aren’t heated. From late May to the end of August most of them are open at least in the weekends. Many of them have small special exhibition, like Korsnäs Museum, where there is a seal hunting room in the attic. For spinners: Myrbergsgården has its spinning treasures in two of the attics: wheels, lazy kates, skein winders. There is also a smithy that is still in use once in a while.

Brinkens museum has a beautiful flower garden. Let’s end with the fox gloves and a view from a window:





    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      Yes, it’s easy to forget your own textile tradition with all the information from the world flooding in all the time. When you get to see so much at one time your view improves.

  1. Susan

    What a FEAST for the eyes and brain!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to photograph things. Somewhere else I have heard of several women working a sweater at the same time…that’ll take some digging in my brain to figure that one out!!!
    The bolster cases are stunning, socks and mittens with human hair…why not? Dog hair is warmer than sheep fleece and yes 😦
    I too could not have lace on my (dog) bed. 🙂

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