Ostrobothnian sweaters and accessories: new book Lankapaitoja ja muita asusteita
About a year ago I was asked if I could make a Korsnäs sweater for a new book “Lankapaitoja”. I happily said Yes, I can! The writers Marketta Luutonen and Anna-Maija Bäckman are both accomplished writers and editors, and both have done a life long work in craft associations. Marketta wrote her doctor’s thesis about sweaters: “Rustic Product as a conveyor of meaning, A Study of Finnish Pullovers” (text in Finnish).
The gorgeous photos in Lankapaitoja are taken by Anna-Maija’s husband Gunnar Bäckman, who worked as a professional photographer for many decades.
The sweater I made a copy of is in child’s size, 2-3 years old. The original is in the Finnish National Museum. I got two photos to work from, which wasn’t a problem as they were taken by Gunnar Bäckman. The sweater is unique because of the use of colours: the pink yarn used has not been found in sweaters for adults. I took this photo when I had finished the sweater.
Korsnäs sweaters are unique because of the techniques used, and because of the many colours in a culture where the natural sheep colours white, brown, and black and blends of those was much more common: there’s tapestry crochet in the hem, the upper part of the body, and in the cuffs and upper parts of the sleeves. The “lus”-pattern known from Norwegian sweaters is knitted.
The sweater is named after the municipality where it’s been made since the 19th century. I visit the small museum in Korsnäs almost every summer. The impression when you enter the room with the sweaters is overwhelming every time: it’s so red! So colourful! It’s a wonderful room.
A unique technique was also used in earlier days for knitting the middle part of the body: three knitters sit in a round and knit their own rows simultaneously. The best knitter knits the “lus” (the stranded knitting with one white stitch, and one red or green in alternating rows). This photo is from a knit-in-public day at the museum:
The tapestry crochet was always done by an expert. Not many could do it.
I first learned to knit and crochet the Korsnäs sweater at Marketta Luutonen’s first class in 1982. Even if I haven’t made more than two adult and this one child sweater, I’m fascinated by it. I really do want to make one more.
But, back to the book. There’s much more than the Korsnäs sweaters in the book. Sweaters and accessories from the western coastal region fill the beautiful book. There are also new interpretations of old finds, all just as well made and with the piety you can expect from the two ladies. An example: a cardigan designed by Anna-Maija from an old vest, knitted and crocheted by Jeanette Rönnqvist-Aro and Berit Bagge. Sorry about the bad photo quality, the photo is from an evening at an exhibition where Marketta and Anna-Maija talked about knitting history and the book. The photo in the background shows the vest:
This is also from the exhibition. My small sweater compared to the ones for adults.
The book has 255 pages, 23×30 cm, printed on high class paper with a beautiful layout. It’s written in Finnish, and there will be a Swedish version in the autumn. I don’t know anything about an English version, but my personal opinion is that this is a book that should be translated. The quality is amazing all through, and I’m sure the sweaters, cardigans, purses, mittens etc would interest a bigger audience. Besides the expertly written section about knitting and crochet history in Finland, there are also written patterns with charts.
My sweater modeled by a lovely boy!
I finish with a photo showing what you sometimes have to work with when using items from museums (and there are far worse examples):
Tapestry crochet project bag
I can’t resist picking up my crochet hook to start yet another bag or purse. I need only a small amount of yarn for a bird, a flower, a non-figurative ornament. I have a lot of left over yarns that I store according to yarn weight. Thus I can easily find yarns that can be used together.
In this case I used yarns from Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson’s, and Pirtin Kehräämö. I found the designs in two books with cross stitch patterns. The birds are traditional Scandinavian, the “spindle whorl” is from the book “Grafiska korsstygn” by Renée Rudebrant.
After my mother died me and my brother and sister divided her things amongst us. I got a window curtain (amongst other things) that I loved as a child, so it’s probably from the 50s. There were holes in it, not from moths because it’s some kind of synthetic cloth, but because of wear. I have no clue to how there can be wear in a curtain. Here’s a piece of that curtain in my purse as a lining:
The project bag is sized for a small knitting or crochet work. It also takes two 100 gram yarn balls and circular or 20 cm dpn needles, small scissors, and tapestry needles. I’m thinking of adding a short strap. The idea is that the bag will fit into my smallest back pack amongst other necessary things, so I won’t make a big shoulder strap, only a short one for easier carrying.
Tapestry crochet is a lovely technique! Slow, meditative, and you need to concentrate as unraveling means a lot of extra work. Here’s Carol Ventura’s awesome site: Tapestry Crochet. If you want to see me crocheting in 2009, look here! I’ve done a lot more since then, and oh how young I looked… Please read about the other persons in the “Portraits”, there are awesome crocheters portrayed.
Busy summer – some results
My summers tend to be busy, considering I’ve been retired the last 5,5 years. I’ve been spinning in public and teaching. I’ll post more later, for now my trip to Överkalix in northern Sweden is quite enough for one posting.
Let’s start in Torneå (Tornio in Finnish) in northern Finland. This was my husband’s home tome in his teens. It’s a lovely small city with the impressive Torne älv (the Tornio river, Tornionjoki in Finnish) running through it, and the Swedish town Haparanda (Haaparanta in Finnish) on the other bank. Those two cities live as if there’s no state boundary at all between them! People cross the bridge all the time for shopping, it’s part of everyday life. The area has been inhabited for at least 8000 years, as the climate is milder and friendlier than you’d expect so far in the north.
Three photos from the city museum: a beautiful spinning wheel and a few of the many distaffs they have on display. I wonder, can you walk into a museum in Finland and not find at least one distaff?
And of course there were spindle whorls:
Then let’s drive over the bridge to Sweden. Hubby and I, and of course, Kasper the dog, drove some 100 kilometers north from Torneå to Överkalix, where they have a crafts event every August. I was to teach tapestry crochet and spindle spinning. I also met some of my spinning friends, who meet in Överkalix during the wool weekend that ends the craft week. It was a very cold weekend for them during the Spin in Public. It can be very warm and nice in Överkalix in August, as we noticed last year when it was hot and sunny. But not so this year. They were freezing!
They had some lovely fibers and knits for sale:
My introduction classes had tempted some lovely people. All learned the basics of the not so easy tapestry crochet technique. All also learned how to use a drop spindle. Eight hours is just enough to learn the basics, and sometimes it’s not at all enough. We run out of time during the spinning class, because there was quite an amount of curious people dropping in all the time, and they proved to be a bit of a disturbance. I didn’t want to show them out, as we had onlookers during the crochet class also, but they stayed in the background and didn’t interfere.
A snapshot from the crochet class:
My classes were in a beautiful old mansion that has been restored into a restaurant and hotel. It’s not always you see a table cloth like that in a classroom! And the food was excellent – I miss the salmon pudding and the delicious corn soup.
My spindle class and me with my laptop showing pics of my wool combs:
There was one lady who didn’t come to the class to learn, but to show something. I was so happy for this, and the others where amazed as they couldn’t imagine this can be done. It was a lady from Afghanistan. She sat down beside me and picked up a stone from her purse. Now you who know the history of spindle spinning recognise a stone as a spindle if you have fiber and want to make a thread, which she did.
She spun a perfect yarn from my batt:
I also want to show an item that made me just as happy as the stone. It’s a spindle whorl owned by one of the officials involved in the arrangements during the crafts week. This is the first time I’ve actually been able to hold a whorl that old in my hand (except for one from Israel that I own and use). It was a solemn moment at the lunch table and the salmon! Salmon was most probably a common meal in the time that whorl was used, by the way.
And here is Katarina, one of the volunteers making things happen during the crafts week. As being one who’s had to arrange events as part of my job (no, I wasn’t at all fond of that part!), I can imagine how much she’s had to fix for this event. Here she’s selling products from her and her husband’s sheep farm.
On the way home Kasper had to look at the world through my new companion. My friend Elaine found it for me 620 kilometers south from Överkalix. She took it a few hundred kilometers north, where my friend Britt-Marie somehow managed to get into the back seat of her car, and she took it to Överkalix. And then it traveled 640 kilometers south again, but in another country and on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia. May I present Hilma-Elaine, my new love:
I’ll show you more of her in another post. She’s worth a post of her own.
Crochet needles – a mystery
Look at these crochet needles on my spinning cloth. All are size 2,5 (mm I presume). If you don’t swatch very carefully when using a written pattern you may get very far from what you had planned, even when you use the suggested yarn. The three needles with the same thickness in the shaft have different hooks, so the result will be different if you change your needle to another in the middle of a project.
Swatching, swatching, that’s the life of a crocheter…
Just for fun, have a look at different ways of sizing and numbering hooks. There are plenty of charts on internet.
I have spindles of many kinds: top whorl, bottom whorl. Russian, Tibetan. Tahkli, Akha. Some are made by skilled spindle makers, others by myself. Some spindles are very dear to me. One such is my Maggie spindle from Magpie WoodWorks. It’s beautifully made, and it’s of course a very good tool. I wouldn’t be so fond of it it wasn’t, would I?
So I made a container for it. Tapestry crochet, commercial and handspun yarns, some dyed by me. Motives from the Korsnäs sweater, and the traditional birds from some Scandinavian knittings.
I put a plastic bottle inside, and a blue cotton lining. Tassels. A crocheted wristaff.
The warm glow of this perfectly turned wood…
Spun, crocheted, and knitted
It’s been a rather hectic January. I had articles to write, and a spindling class to start planning, but I have also spun, crocheted and knit. I want to show you some of what I’ve done.
In the autumn I suddenly saw how I should knit a sweater I’ve been thinking of for a while. I spun the yarns from different fibers, mostly Swedish Finull but also Merino, silk, and cotton nepps during several years without a special project in mind. One day, as so often happens, I picked through my yarns in search for something, and saw these skeins together in my mind, laid them out, and started the sweater later that day. Here it is:
I also took part in a spin-together event in the Swedish spinning group on Ravelry. I spun green, lilac, blue, and red fine 2-ply yarns from Swedish Finull. I dyed the wool last spring, and carded it during the summer. The grey and black skeins are Norwegian Pelssau, a very nice and soft wool. The yarns are part of a project where I try to spin different fibers on different tools, trying to make yarns I can use together. I used one of my old Finnish Saxony wheels, Louet Victoria, and Hansen Minispinner for these and the brown and red skeins below. The yarns in the sweater where spun on Kromski Symphony, Louet Victoria, and Hansen Minispinner, and they are much thicker.
The red skeins has company from a natural brown Finull skein.
I wanted to test the yarns i one of my favourite techniques, tapestry crochet. This purse is now on its way to a spinning and dyeing friend in Sweden:
The sheep are my version of stranded knitting sheep you can find in many patterns. I already know my friend likes them, even if she doesn’t know they are hers. I showed the purse on Facebook the same day I had sent the package, and got a positive comment from her. I hope she’ll be happy when she opens the parcel! She’s a skilled dyer. As you can see, the colours in my yarns are uneven, which is what I’m after when I dye. I think it makes the finished item more vivid.
This is an experiment: white cotton and purple silk noils. I had a high quality cotton sliver that I wasn’t able to spin into a nice yarn. So, with an aching heart, I took my hand carders and turned it into punis. I had just seen Sarah Anderson blending cotton and silk, so I wanted to give it a try. I’ll use it as an effect yarn in a woven scarf one day.
I’m looking out on a white world. We have snow, which is wonderful this time of the year. It makes the world lighter. The morning sun gives a golden glow to both snow and creatures!
För mina svenska läsare: boken är på finska med ett kort engelskt sammandrag, så jag talar om vad jag tycker bara på finska (=gillar!)
For my English readers: the book is in Finnish with a short summary in English, so I’m telling how I like it only in Finnish (=like!)
Upea kirja karjalaisesta neule- ja piilosilmukkaperinteestä sukissa ja käsineissä!
Jo kirjan nostaminen nettikaupan pakkauksesta sai minut haukkomaan henkeäni. Voi kuinka kaunis kirja! Ajattelin että näin upea, painava (=laadukas paperi) ja suurikokoinen kirja kielii huolellisesta työstä.
Ja niin tosiaan on. Koska olen kiinnostunut tekstiilihistoriasta, olin hyvin iloinen huomatessani kuinka paljon mallien taustatietoja kirjassa on. Kauniit, selkeät valokuvat, helposti luettavaa tekstiä, hienot värit… Valokuvaaja on Marko Mäkinen ja kustantaja Maahenki, joka sekin takka laadun.
Kirjan mallit pohjautuvat museolöytöihin. Kaikista on tehty uusi versio tämän päivän langoista. Jokaisen mallin kohdalla mainitaan museo ja esineen arkistonumero, joskus on myös valokuva museoesineestä.
Minua kiinnostaa erityisesti kirjan kiinteillä ketjusilmukoilla virkatut mallit. Yritin joitakin vuosia sitten löytää enemmän tietoa tämän tekniikan käytöstä Suomessa ja erityisesti Pohjanmaalla artikkelia varten, mutta en löytänyt oikeastaan mitään muuta kuin maininnan käsineistä Hjördis Dahlin väitöskirjassa “Högsäng och klädbod”. Marketta Luutonen välitti minulle pari valokuvaa Kansallismuseosta, mutta siihen se sitten jäi. Ruotsista olin aikaisemmin löytänyt muutaman kirjan, koska siellä tekniikka on säilynyt pitempään kuin Suomessa. “Sukupolvien silmukat” sisältää sekä malleja että kuvia lapasista, käsineistä ja sukista. Kirjassa keskustellaan myös tekniikan nimestä, joka ei ole ihan yksiselitteinen millään tuntemallani kielellä. Törmäsin siihen hakiessani tietoja sekä kirjoista että netistä suomeksi, englanniksi, tanskaksi, ruotsiksi ja norjaksi (ehkä myös saksaksi, en enää muista).
Kirjan tekijät ovat Pia Ketola, Eija Bukowski, Leena Kokko, Anne Bäcklund ja Sari Suuronen. Kiitän heitä suurenmoisesta työstä!
Korinpohjasukat Jääskestä. Muutama viikko sitten näytin korinpohjasukkia Vöyriltä tässä blogissa. Jokohan pitäisi tarttua puikkoihin? No, se oli pelkästään retorinen kysymys, johon vastaan “kyllä”. Aion myös tarttua koukkuun.
Hats in Myrbergsgården
In an earlier post I wrote about socks you can see in one of the museums in my municipality. Today I want to show you hats from that same amazing museum, Myrbergsgården = Ant’s Hill House, if you wonder 🙂
Some of these are skilfully crocheted children’s hats. Sometimes they were made for women, who wore them as an extra layer under the head cloths for more warmth. Indoors they took off the head cloth, but sometimes kept the hat. The houses, and especially the small cottages, where not always very warm in winter in those days, i.e. the end of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th. As you can see, they were crocheted in the round. The pattern designs are the same you can find in crocheted clothes and purses here on the Ostrobothnian coast.
Close up: I still haven’t had time to see how they solved the problem with going from crocheting in rounds to making a flat piece. You can do it in two ways. Either you continue working in rounds and make a steek afterwards, or you cut the threads after each row. I really can’t tell from my photos which method they used.
The Twisted S design is often used in the Korsnäs sweater, but you can also find it in suspenders and purses. It’s one of my favorits, I often use it in purses.
I have tried to copy this hat, made and used by an elderly woman as her indoor hat, but it’s very hard to find out exactly how the increases are made. I think this design must be made exactly like this. It’s charming with it’s slightly irregular “propellers”. If you make it regular it looses much of its charm.
These plain knitted caps were also used under the head cloth. Some of them are machine knitted. Knitting machines where common before WWII in my municipality. This is a simple but highly usable sock heel construction:
Hope you enjoyed! To me head gear are constant objects of amazement. It seems we put just anything on our heads! I think the hats I just showed you are lovely. When I get even older than I am now, I’ll crochet a hat like that for me to wear on cold winter days.
For two perfect spindles
I have this obsession with taking spindles with me when travelling. I have loads of purses, but these two spindles with big whorls haven’t had any earlier. Now they have one!
Square spindle from Michael Williams, Comet from Woolly Designs. Both are perfectly balanced with long and fast spin.
Tapestry crochet, yarn Sandnes Garn Mandarin Petit. Lining polyester, I think. Card woven strap in Mandarin Petit. Old rag rug gifted by a kind neighbour.
I have been spinning also. I started this yarn at a training camp on Ravelry before Tour de Fleece, and finished it a few days ago. Spun on three different light weight spindles and Louet Victoria. Sock yarn, 4-ply, 697 meters, 200 grams, merino and silk. I think for needles 2 mm, but still have to swatch.
Two-end knitting and crochet
I took a class in intermediate two-end knitting for Karin Kahnlund, one of the skilled Swedish knitters and teachers in this intricate technique. You may know it as “twined knitting”, a term that is also frequently used. It’s called “tvåändsstickning” in Swedish. The technique hasn’t been widely known outside the areas in Sweden where it has been practised for hundreds of years. It’s still an unknown way of knitting for most knitters. I first learned how to do it at the beginning of the 21th century, when I was able to attend a class with Marianne Wasberg. She’s the one sitting in the wheel chair here in our class at the Symposium:
I somehow managed not to take a photo of our pleasant and skilled teacher. I did take photos of her mittens, but as she doesn’t want them to be published I can’t show them. Karin has made very beautiful knitted mittens and sleeves, as you can see from the few photos on her site.
I may show Karin’s swatch that we started knitting in the class:
My swatch is still to be finished. I frogged the first one and started all over. After several hours of knitting I’ve come this far:
I wanted to show the wrong side, because it’s different from how you usually knit stranded knitting and fair isle. Every stitch is bound or twisted, and you throw the yarns. The continental way of knitting doesn’t work in two-end knitting. I’m pleased with the swatch as it looks now compared to the one I first started knitting. You have to knit firm, otherwise the patterns won’t look nice. In this exercise you learn how many threads you need to use in each pattern, and how they are bound and twisted.
In two-end knitting you use Z-twist yarns, so now I have a new challenge in my spinning. For some reason I find it much more difficult to spin S than Z. I think it has to do with very small changes in how you use your muscles in your drafting hand. So, the way to cope with that is to spin more S-twist singles to train your muscles! We use Z-twisted yarns because S-twisted tend to loose rather much twist in this technique. This is of course, as so often when it comes to textiles, a matter of “it depends”. Your personal way of knitting, how you keep your yarns in your hands, how you pick the stitches or throw your yarns, whether you’re right handed or left handed, all this affect the yarns and how your knitting looks. So, test different ways and decide for yourself how you want to do it.
I also got engaged as a teacher at the Symposium, and found myself having promised to teach tapestry crochet at a knitting symposium. To my surprise my class was quite popular, so I ended up with more students than I had promised to take. It was a bit crowded in one of the classes, but we managed even if my legs still are covered with bruises from the table and chairs I had to round each time I wanted to show someone what to do 🙂 I chose the traditional Ostrobothnian way to crochet this technique. My students learned the basics and some of them were able to finish the round, flat bottom of a purse. At least one of them had finished the sides of her purse the following morning! This is a photo I took while working with the hand outs for my class:
We also could to listen to some very interesting talks during the five days, and we visited several museums and saw some of the beautiful textiles from my region. I met new people, and some that I’ve met earlier in Scotland, Shetland, Finland, Sweden. It was a wonderful five days!