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!
Hubby, Kasper and I made a trip to Joensuu in eastern Finland to visit hubby’s son. We took the southern route around the lakes so we could visit the Craft Museum in Jyväskylä. I was prepared for not seeing much of what I’d like to see most of all: knitting, crochet and fabric for clothing. And so it was. The reason for this is of course that showing these items in the museum’s permanent exhibition would damage them. But there was still much to see, and I strongly recommend a visit if you go to Jyväskylä. I’m sure you’ll be able to see items from the store rooms if you ask in advance.
First of all I heard intense talking and laughing from a room next to the exhibition. It was a gang of charity knitters! They knitted for disabled persons, and this day there was mostly socks and mittens on the needles. They didn’t mind me taking photos, and I was also allowed to publish:
There was a stunning exhibition of new Estonian fashion inspired by the rich folk textiles in that country. But as photography was forbidden, I can’t show anything. So let’s move on to the museum’s own items:
There was a fine exhibition of Finnish folk costumes. This couple is dressed in clothes that could’ve been worn in the Kuopio area in the 19th century:
The costume find in Eura in 1969 has been much documented and discussed in Finland, and it’s been reconstructed with great care. The grave was from Viking time, 1020-1070. The discussion in our media was especially intense when our former president Tarja Halonen came to the independence ball dressed like this, and yes, she also wore the knife in her belt. There are excellent pictures of old Finnish dress here, also one of our president: women’s dress.
The rich women’s jewellery was striking in the Viking times, as nowadays. I like the bronze spiral embellishment in the hems. They add both beauty and weight to the apron, no unruly flapping in the wind here!
The knitted and crocheted items were sparse. But here are three sweaters, from top to bottom: first the so called tikkuripaita, or the sweater from Hailuoto, an island in the northern Baltic Sea, then a crocheted granny square heavy cardigan made from left-over yarns by a woman from Pargas in southern Finland called Qvidi-Mina (both she and her cardigan), and then the Korsnäs sweater from Korsnäs on the west coast. Qvidi-Mina was one of those women you can find all over the world. They have an eye for beauty, they have skilled hands, they make a meagre living by selling their products or changing them for goods or services. Luckily a woman in the neighbourhood inherited Qvidi-Mina’s textiles, and now you can see them in the museum in Pargas.
I love the felted red boots! They are new. Felted boots in the old days did not look like that. The leather boots are still made, but typically for much that is made in our times, they are not made with such care and elegance as in older days. In the wild 70s and 80s I used such boots for years. They are nice in the winter, and excellent for walking in our stony woods also in the summer.
Now here’s what the felted boots looked like in earlier days. They are light and warm and at their best in very cold winters. I wore felted boots as a child in the 50s. But you have to remember: don’t use them when it’s raining!
Re-use isn’t a new thing, if any of you thought so… which I don’t think you did. Here’s a corselet made from Marianne candy paper, our much loved peppermints:
No, I don’t think you should go out in the rain dressed in that one either… of course, it depends on what effect you want to achieve.
Now here’s a sweater and a sad love story that make people go soft. It’s a tikkuripaita. There was a girl and a boy, living as neighbours as best friends in their village in Hailuoto. Everyone thought they would marry when they grew up. Then came WWII. The boy, now a man, had to join the army and fight against the Russians. He survived, he came home – and found that his friend had married another. But she still knitted him a tikkurisweater. He wore it for the rest of his life. He mended it himself. He loved it. I’m sure he loved her also.