A lot can be said about Swedish knitter Britt-Marie Christofferson (b. 1937). Most of it I didn’t know until a few days ago, when I stumbled upon her book Stickning at the local library. Since then she has become somewhat of a hero to me. I dare you to look at this picture of her and not develop any kind of mushy feelings!
So my lady crush had me read up on her and now I know she has a background in woven textile design and apparently the more political activist part of that scene. Yes that is a thing. At some point she left the textile industry citing limited control of the outcome and her being a tad bit lazy. She went off with a clear intention to reinvent knitting instead. Apparently she started out knitting every stitch pattern in every stitch dictionary she could find just to get a good basic understanding.
All of this happened mostly before I was even born, and the previously mentioned book was published a couple of years before I started knitting so I missed the hype that surrounded it when it first came out. This is me making assumptions, please tell me there was hype!?
Stickning is the swedish word for knitting and oh, is it a proper generic name for a book! Annoyingly correct though for this book, as well as ANY other book with knitting in it.
The book is in fact an innovative, beautifully extravagant and heavily saturated stitch dictionary. Never thought I’d write that sentence! It’s been translated into english with the equally annoying name Pop knitting referring to the “popping” 3 dimensional knits. All words on the cover aside, the quality of the contents is undeniable.
Britt-Marie Christofferson creates liberatingly weird, colorfull and imaginative stitch patterns like nothing I’ve seen before. Quite deliberately she pushes boundaries, elaborating on old stitch techniques and creating new ones. Frequently using what is generally thought to be flaws as a centerstage design element.
She defiantly describes her use of colors as nothing any human would wear, playing around with them in complete excess. The mustard yellows, deep blues and saturated reds make me think of 70’s decor magazines, bauhaus furniture and of course hotdogs, so many hotdogs. But when you hold the title of Sweden’s foremost Explorer of the possibilities of knitting you are expected to play around. I am pretty sure she made that title up though, which just affirms the fact that I need to go live with this wonderful lady right now. Oh the fun we would have.
I am not a color person, I wear and knit mostly with neutrals, and when I say neutrals I mean black. It is however extremely hard not to be seduced by the pure vision of Britt-Marie’s geometrical shapes and clear colors. There is nothing I admire more than a personal point of view and Britt-Marie has that all over the place. Although some of her stuff is way beyond what I consider useful for my own making, take for example the extraordinary zero fucks given swanvaganza above, there are a wide array of purlless ribs, tight woven like textures and patterns that I can definitely see myself make everything from wearables to totes and pillows out of. Most importantly she makes me want to test every stitch, every color and just play around. Exactly like she did. That kind of energy is contagious.