Friday, September 23, 2011

Swedish Bohus sweater yoke with sample of motif in blues, courtesy Kerstin Olsson.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

not denmark

ecomodista has been wondering how the Tohuku earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear meltdown (well perhaps not literally) are affecting the European knitwear industry, especially Scottish cashmere. Perhaps not in the least if one extrapolates information from a recent Cushman & Wakefield study of the world's largest shopping centers. According to Christian Dubois, Partner at Cushman & Wakefield France, "Eight-one percent of the 278 locations analyzed in 63 countries have shown either growth or consistency in their rental values, versus 66% in 2010." While NYC's 5th Avenue continues to exert dominance, the Ginza district in Tokyo was third, following Hong Kong's Causeway bay, certainly a possible barometer of consumer spending. 

Japan may be the world's fourth largest importer of knitwear, but only a small percentage of that, 10 years ago 3.9%, is from the EU. However, Japanese consumers do account for 11% of global luxury sales. Hand knits are so coveted that women have a personal knitter rather than a tailor. Favoring Nordic designs, Japanese pattern books are devoted to Selbu   In 2001 the Scotland launched "Cashmere Made in Scotland" label in Japan, one of the major consumers of cashmere. Economists working with data from previous global disasters in fact predict imports to rise, but whether this includes luxury spending it's difficult to say until 2012. According to Le Tien Truong, Deputy General Director of Vinatex,the Vietnamese textile organization the imports will focus on affordable garments. Ironically, victims of the tsunami may need to acquire entire wardrobes given the loss of their homes.

above: Wild Apple yoke on small scale for sample and at actual size, designed by Kerstin Olsson

Kerstin Olsson was a major designer for Bohus knitwear in Gothenberg, Sweden, during the 1960's, responsible for the classic Wild Apple motif. Various Japanese knitters visit her studio annually, as Olsson is an icon of Swedish knitwear. ecomodista will post excerpts of an interview with her in the near future.

Knitwear is such a major component of fashion, Japan's response to H & M, Uniglo just launched their 100% Merino sweater campaign in London, Have You Seen Our Sheep? Using hash tags, consumers who spot stray sheep and tweet a photograph of themselves with sheep wandering in the city may be rewarded with a cashmere sweater!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

århus and beyond

Take the train from Copenhagen to Århus, and while there, track down Helga and and Marianne Isager's boutique. There are wonderful yarn shops too, Garnlageret Aarhus is at Rosenkrantzgade 31 . after browsing in the pedestrian High Street, from the Central Station to the cathedral, ecomodista trekked to her favorite bakery in Århus, Langenaes bagerie where Palle Sørensen once worked, not that it is any less wonderful since a new pastry chef has replaced him. In a chilling downpour the ambience of the cafe warmed us.

From Århus, it's feasible to take a direct one hour bus to Ebeltoft, known for its artist's community (where Ruth Sørensen lives and works) and the natural beauty of its beaches and surrounding forests and hills. Artists frequent the town, attracted by the Glassmuseet Ebeltoft, a stunning glass studio and museum. One of the few round churches, Thorsager Rundkirke, is nearby, in Rønde. Concerts are often presented in this venue, so do check their schedule.

upper left, Ebeltoft Dyeworks, lower left Balleby yarn shop; right, half timbered houses in the center of Ebeltoft. 

During an interview with Ruth Sørensen, she divulged how she obtains inspiration from nature. In her newly enlarged studio, she looks out upon a carpet of wildflowers with layers of colors, she captures these as she knits using the Kauni Effekt or other self striping or shading yarns from Estonia. Her patterns are so popular that Raverly knit alongs with everyone knitting the same design happen.

Balleby Art & Knitting, Adelgade 68, in Ebeltoft has a wonderful selection of Danish yarns and kits from designers such as Bente Geil, whose web site, also offers her specially spun yarns and designs. Do order color cards of the yarn since they are identified only by number on her site, although one could simply contact her and ask for a favored color. ecomodista intends o knit Running Time, a summer knit. Geil's designs cleverly incorporate historical references with a modern twist.

Geil and Sørensen's kits are also available at the Textilforum/Textile Forum Museum, Vestergade 20 in Herning a major center for machine loomed knitting and textile production located in the flatlands of Jutland. Textileforum is fascinating, exhibiting carding, spinning, and circular knitting equipment, and even providing the opportunity to work on the looms.

above, Herning Textile Forum, weaving equipment and vintage yarns on original wooden spools

Herning is surroundd by heaths, and during the 19th century was at the center of major reclamation project although subsistance farming forced rural landholders to supplement their incomes with cottage industries such as hand knitting. Later the textile industry was the regions primary economic activity. A company dating from the early 20th century, SNS Herning continues to produce hand loomed machine knits, each one signed by it's creator.

if you happen to find yourself in copenhagen...

Fabulous kits and yarns may be purchased at Uldstedet i City, Fiolstraede 13, which has a large selection of Isager, Garn Studio, and Gepard yarns plus kits from Hanne Falkenberg and Helga Isager. The shop also stocks prefab felted wool slippers with leather soles, a must have even if one does knit since street shoes and boots are not worn at home. Anyway, felted slippers with hand knit socks are so much warmer, and one uses less energy for heating. Sommerflyglen, located at Vandkunsten 3, stocks knitting, embroidery, and quilting materials, with yarns spun just for them.

above: Chrisiania district in Copenhagen where hand made is the dominant ethic
below: Ebeltoft pedestrian quarter where Balleby Garn & Strik is located

above: Bente Geil's gillet design 
below: Bente Geil's home

Christiania, the large counterculture community in the center of the city dates from the 1960's, where rioting color and handmade homes and gardens vie for attention. Amergatov Square is nearby, where knitters from the country once plied their wares. A small market in Christiania sometimes has hand knits, but made in Latin America rather than local, although there is a charming craft shop and gallery in Christiania.

Christiania even developed its own industry, production of specially designed bicycles with attached carts, and these are often seen on the streets of Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Fashion week occurs annually in early February and August; knitwear is often a large component on the catwalks, and several designers, especially Iben Høj work only with knits. and see: 

After shopping at various independent boutiques, especially Sabine Poupinel on Kronprinsensgade who stocks Gudrun og Gudren among others, and Sjaler Tekstil Galleriet specializing in hand knit and woven scarves and shawls, essential to staying warm regardless of the season, try the smørrebrød or open face sandwiches at the cafe, Domhuskaeldernat at Nytorv 5.

The Kunstindustrimuseet/Industrial Arts Museum is a fabulous resource for antique laces where an entire room is devoted to this art. If you are interested in more recent vintage, check out Ca Roule Ma Moule on Silkegade frequently patronized by Lene Nystrøm, vocalist for the band Aqua. Atelier Decor on Rømersgade features 20th century fashion, and numerous antique shops have moved into Ravnsborgde in the Nørrebro district, the current "Latin Quarter." 

ecomodista is having problems with posted comments, so this one has been incormporated into the text:


I love this blog! I really enjoy reading about European Knitting and the cities, towns and villages from where it originates. I love how you have combined the idea of travel and knitting together. 

Have you ever thought of putting a trip together to some of these destinations - for other knitters? 


Posted by Anonymous to europe knitting at September 6, 2011 7:24 PM

Thursday, September 1, 2011

denmark still knitting

left, cardigan designed by Ruth Sørensen using Excel and Kauni Effekt yarn and inspired by the landscapes of Ebeltoft; right, detail of wall in Christiania, the counterculture squat in the center of Copenhagen.

Despite educational sløjd, not every Dane wants to knit. While Ruth Sørensen learned to knit from her mother and in school, she abandoned the craft by the time she was a student at Designskolen Kolding, where she trained as a textile designer and weaver. Charmingly blunt, Ruth explains knitting was included in the curriculum but was her least favorite class. “After textile design training, I was absorbed by weaving, and found the patterns and colors that could be produced with this technique exciting. I never found knitting to be especially challenging.” She, her husband, and children lived on a farm near Ebeltoft, north of Århus, surrounded by apple orchards but moved into town when the children were in secondary school. Ebeltoft is a former seaport and now has a lively arts scene, an internationally recognized glass museum, and is a resort in the summer. Historically, in the provinces, knitters worked with white wool then brought their finished garments to a dye-works such as Farvergården in Ebeltoft.

Ballerby Garn in Ebeltoft's historic center is stockist for Bente Geil's kits and Isager yarns.