The Artisan – Helga Isager

1st March 2017

The Artisan - Helga IsagerThe Artisan - Helga IsagerThe Artisan - Helga IsagerThe Artisan - Helga IsagerHelga Isagers new book The Artisan just arrived in my mailbox and it is beyond beautiful. I’ve been in a bit of a slump when it comes to knitting lately. In fact I have spent most of my knitting time planning my vegetable garden. Apparently I need to daydream about Summer and light and all that good stuff, more than I need to knit right now. February has been particularly drap and I am so ready for the seasons to change (hello, March!). However when I look at this collection I am reminded of all the things I love about this one. Im into Winter as a time of rest and introspection. Which can mean knitting, but sometimes it means that I have to hone my energy and just pile on delicious inspiration for the more active parts of the year.

That is what I feel the Artisan is. Pure inspiration. The kind that makes you want to rethink your practice or simply cast on everything. It has been a while since I’ve been so into a collection as a whole. It is very true to Helga’s style which tend to lean a little more “feminine” (for lack of a better word) than mine, but I can actually see myself wearing most of it with ease. The entire thing is basically a capsule wardrobe. The designs are cohesive without being monotonous and it has an impressive variation of techniques and construction. Everything is meticulously thought out with just the right amount of details. My bet is you could knit the entire thing and not be bored. Neither with knitting it nor wearing it. I probably wont go that far, but all of the above designs have definitely jumped into the top of my queue. I’ve been looking for the perfect Cardigan to fill a gap in my wardrobe. So I think I might have to start on an Ebony cardigan. Then I can also practice my pretty limited set-in sleeves skills. Win-win.

If you’re interested in the collection as well I should tell you that the current release of the book is in Danish. However, I talked to Helga and she told me that both an English and German version will be out March 27th.

Now excuse me while I go be sardonic about something to make up for all this gushing.

Images from the top to bottom

Twine rolled neck sweater

Ebony cardigan

Pearls raglan sweater

Birch kimono


Update on some downtime

25th January 2017

Just checking in to let you guys know what’s going on with the site. As you might have noticed it has been down for a few days. A rouge software update went and crashed the whole thing. Yeah that happened. So we (that’s me and my partner Chris) have spent some time restoring the site, hopefully in a sturdier way. For the most part it is back to normal. Except for one pretty important thing.

The Shop is down or rather the Shop is gone. I am planning it out now, but it will probably take me a little while to get it back up again. I’ll use this as an opportunity (or kick in the b…) to rebuild the shop and make some needed changes. You see, I am preparing to expand Temple of Knit pretty soon. More on that later. However in the meantime, if you’re in need of a Light Summer Tank, you can still find the pattern on Ravelry here.

Nordic Makers

Louisa Bond – Worn Values

16th January 2017

Louisa Bond

I am so excited to kick off the first instalment of Nordic Makers! If you’re wondering what that is, you can find the introduction here.

Louisa Bond and her site Worn Values continue to impress me. So of course I had to ask her to participate in this series. Louisa lives in the Norwegian capitol Oslo, and also happens to be an actual real life Philosopher. She writes about Slow Fashion in a holistic and passionate way. Always making sure that there are practical applications to her words. Her guides on how to darn knits and buy ethical shoes (part 1 and part 2), are some of my all time favorite DIY gems. Both meticulously researched and easy to understand. Luckily she agreed to answer my questions and I couldn’t be happier to share her thoughts with you.

You can find out more about Louisa on her Instagram here.

Hej Louisa! Tell us about yourself, Worn Values and your general practice? 

I started the Worn Values blog last year as a way of exploring slow fashion and commit to a more sustainable wardrobe. But starting the blog has also been a personal search for creativity, courage and direction in my own life, as I try to find my way in the “real world” as a recent graduate.

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a handmade wardrobe for a long time. But I couldn’t make sense of wanting to knit and sew my own clothes. When, after all, clothes are so readily available and cheaply priced in fast-fashion chain stores. I graduated in philosophy, but took some classes in economics last year and was immersed in the economic jargon of “comparative advantage” and “economies of scale”. Sewing and knitting your own clothes seemed to make no sense in those terms. On the other hand, I was also aware of the gruelling economic realities of the garment industry, with the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. I had also seen the Norwegian series Sweatshops [The series is available to watch here]. Where a few fashion bloggers travelled to Cambodia to experience first-hand the realities of garment workers lives.

I kept coming back to the same questions: what on earth has happened to our notion of value? Is the value of our clothes nothing more than a price tag? For me, knitting and sewing has to do with so much more than a garment’s price. It is about gaining control over fit and quality, learning practical skills, reconnecting to a heritage of craftsmanship, and just the satisfaction of being able to make something tangible and useful with my own two hands.

So, the blog started with this desire to make. Combined with the uneasy feeling that there is something dreadfully wrong with the fast-fashion industry. Trying to approach sustainability on a tight budget led me to re-discover the value of mending. Through the inspiration of people like Katrina Rodabaugh I realized mending can be a creative challenge in itself. So, I feel a gentle pull in that direction now.

Does being based in Norway have any impact on your making? 

I think it does, though I haven’t properly reflected over it before. Thinking back to when I picked up knitting again in my early twenties, I remember feeling it was like connecting with home, with my Norwegian roots. At the time, I was studying design in London, but I was overwhelmed by the pace of the city and the competitiveness of the course. I longed for calm and quiet, crisp autumn air, the smell of pine woods and the comfort of thick woolly jumpers.

It’s funny, my making influence is very much tied to each of my grandmothers. My English grandma sewed most of her own clothes throughout her life, and I connect sewing with her and her Englishness. But knitting feels very Norwegian to me. All through my childhood my Norwegian grandma would keep the whole extended family supplied with woolly socks. I remember watching with fascination the speed of her knitting needles clicking away as she watched the news. Perhaps when I am a granny too, I’ll have some of her knitting speed.

I suppose, knitting is, and has been, so common in Norway that it was no big deal for me to pick it up and delve into it. Also, I can’t think of a better remedy for the cold and dark evenings of the Norwegian winter than curling up on the sofa under a rug, with a big cup of tea and knitting in hand.

louisa Bond - Nordic Makers

The Nordic countries have strong historic traditions when it comes to knitwear and other fiber work. Is that something you draw from or think about in your work as a maker? 

I do feel this sense of a rich heritage of wool and craftsmanship in Norway and Scandinavia. But I feel I have only barely scraped the surface. I love the stranded colour work of traditional Norwegian mittens and cardigans, but also how the tradition is kept alive as they are continually re-imagined.

But it is only fairly recently, within the last year or two, I have really become aware of Norwegian wool. A whole new world opened up to me as I listened to the Woolful podcast, stumbled across the Norwegian small-scale yarn producer Lofoten Wool, and started reading things like the Norwegian book Ren Ull. Slowly it dawned on me just how intricate the journey from sheep to yarn is. Now, I just want to learn more!

It’s a good testament to the work Ashley is doing, that we both connected to our local fiber through the Woolful podcast. For me it was all about the Gotland sheep. Getting back to the questions. Are there any challenges working with fiber and making in the Nordic countries or anything that you think is easier here? 

I think it is easy in the sense that there are a lot of resources to tap into with that rich heritage of a long-standing knitting and fibre tradition. Over the last few years there seems to have been a massive resurgence in knitting, particularly, which is lovely. Hopefully that will bring with it a greater appreciation for the time and skill involved in making clothes in general, and a greater interest in local wool in particular.

In Norway, there is a lot of talk politically about the new green economy and how we might shift away from an oil-dominated industry to new, “green” industries. While all the focus seems to be on new technologies and big data. I wonder why there is not more recognition of wool as a natural and sustainable raw material as well.

I do think that knitting and other fibre crafts are sometimes waved aside as uninteresting or unimportant, like “just” a flimsy women’s hobby. But I hope, and think, that is about to change and that a growing appreciation of fibre crafts will breathe new life in the Norwegian and Scandinavian wool and textile industry.

LousiaBond_3What are you working on now? 

Right now, I’m most focused on a jumper I’ve had on my needles for almost a year. Although I love the yarn and the pattern, I just can’t seem to get the fit right. So I’m re-knitting the bottom half for the second time now. The yarn is un-dyed Norwegian wool from Lofoten Wool – somewhat rough to knit, but I love the natural look and sturdy but soft quality of the fabric it creates. The pattern is the Imago raglan pullover by Yoko Hatta for Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 9.

To be spending so much time on one garment feels very foreign in all the busyness of our modern-day lives. But it is also strangely satisfying to allow myself to take the time it takes to get it right. It is healing somehow to be able to go back and re-do what went wrong.

Nordic Makers

Nordic Makers – Introduction

11th January 2017

Nordic MakersIts a new year and I want to kick it off with something special. A while back I wrote a post about the movement towards local wool. Since then, I have wanted to take a closer look at my more immediate fiber world. It really bugged me that I knew a lot more about what was happening on the other side of the world, than I did about what’s going on where I actually live.

Of course once I voiced the thought, I began to notice all the initiatives around me a lot more . It has been a slow build up, but right now there is also somewhat of an explosion of new stuff going on. Wool producers are organising. Craft fairs seem to pop up everywhere. Two new Scandinavian knit magazines launched just within the last couple of months (Welcome Laine and Garn) and the number of artists, designers, writers and small businesses working with fiber keeps growing.

Nordic Makers

I want to know more about all these exciting things happening. The people and the businesses, new and old. Because I am super curious, but also to see if there is a thread in the way people work. Do the traditions we have in the Nordic countries, factor into how people work with fiber now? Or is it more complex than that. Are there any new traditions? How is it to work with crafts in a globalised world? This might sound a bit lofty, but really I just want to talk to my fellow Nordic fiber lovers and make a space for all of those conversations.

So I decided to create an ongoing interview series called Nordic Makers. That way I get to ask these awesome people questions and learn more about them. The first few are already done and I am so looking forward to share them with you!

The whole Nordic thing

I feel like a bit of information on the term Nordic is probably needed. Even as a person born here the definition can be a bit confusing, as it is often seamlessly interchanged with Scandinavia, for no apparent reason. Or used to market an overhyped food trend. What it actually covers is a geographical region made up of the actual Scandinavian countries Norway, Sweden and Denmark. As well as Finland, Iceland and the Danish territories Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The area it covers is about a third of the size of the United states. What matters in this context though, is not so much geography, but the history of cultural exchange between the countries. There is after all a pretty neat kinship happening.

The always brilliant Kate Davies talks about this as a “fluid set of Nordic regional textile practices” and tells the story of the Norwegian yoked sweater:

“… In 1953, a Norwegian designer working in London saw a photograph of the Danish Royal Family, wearing Greenland national dress. Inspired by this photograph she went on to create the “Eskimo” sweater. Now regarded as an icon of Norwegian knitwear design – but how ‘national’ a design could this sweater, in fact, be said to be?”

What I take from this is that, not surprisingly, traditions and practices in the Nordic countries (or most places really) are not created in a national vacuum. I think we are all the better for it. Never the less I still want to examine what the living, breathing traditions and practices are in this region. Not necessarily what they used to be, but how they move and change and even how they are influenced by other cultures. Most importantly I want to know who the people breathing life into them are.

So that is what I intend to do. In a couple of days I’ll share the first Interview and we will see how it grows from there. If there is someone from this region you’re curious about, just let me know in the comments and I might contact them to take part.

Nordic Makers - Pippi Longstocking wearing traditional swedish fisherman's sweater

Images top to bottom 
  • Kalaallit woman from eastern Greenland in traditional garb. Beaded collars like this one, is said to be the inspiration behind the Norwegian yoked sweaters (and the Icelandic for that matter).
  • Kirsten Hoffstätter started a protest movement with her Hønsestrik books in Denmark, back in the 70’s. Rebelling against strict knitwear patterns, and also the patriarchy.
  • 1950’s Faroese school kids wearing great sweaters. I would like one of each, please.
  • Pippi Longstocking in a traditional Swedish fisherman’s sweater. This design dates back to the 1700’s, but now most Swedes simply know it as the Pippi sweater.



The First Mass (kind of)

21st October 2016

firstmassBack when Temple of Knit was just a little blogspot blip, I would do Sunday Mass posts once in while. Sunday Mass was simply a place to share all the fiber related stuff I found inspiring during my day to day. Get it? It is a mass of links, not the kind with psalms and preaching (I have no problem with those FYI). Oh how I chuckled when I came up with that. My corny humour aside I do feel like a Temple should have ceremonies. So I have decided to bring back the tradition in a more simplified form. No specific day or schedule. Just organically gathered gems of varying size and quantity.

So welcome to Mass! To kick off it off, I want to point to the inspiration already gathered here on the site. The Resources page. Since I didn’t announced it when I first made it, I’ll call some attention to it now. I update it regularly and try to keep it focused on some of the things that are especially close to my heart. Specifically Makers based in the Scandinavian region. As well as useful articles and the likes on Sustainable Practice and Slow Fashion. If you haven’t already looked around, I recommend a cup of tea and some leisurely perusing.

I recently added a few things that I think are worthy of some extra attention:

Vestoj is a printed magazine and digital hub. You might remember me mentioning them not so long ago. Made up of both academics and practitioners it deals with Fashion in a lovingly critical way, that I haven’t really come across before. Looking at Fashion in relationship to slowness, material memories and shame just to mention a few of their themes. If you like analytical, deeply interested writing this is definitely for you.

Fillip K Circle is an initiative by the Swedish designer of the same name. After two years of research they created a platform to discuss sustainable and circular practices within the Fashion industry. The site has a commercial purpose, but the actual result is pretty transparent and interesting. I especially loved this article on Wool and it’s environmental impact.

Just an fyi. I am in no way affiliated or paid by anybody to share these links. Not now not ever.