Its 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.
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.
“… 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.
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.