Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Unexpected Pleasure

I just spent most of the weekend in the company of one of the knitting world's most treasured teachers, Susanna Hanssen. And what a pleasure it was.

The West Coast Knitters' Guild sponsored the weekend, and it was superbly organized by their president, the lovely Holli Yeoh and her staff, and well housed in a setting with plenty of natural light and great food.

But the main attraction was, of course, Susanna. She is a great teacher. Now I know what my friends who go to Madrona are going on about when they rave about her. Friday evening was an overview of Norwegian knitting, which has always intrigued and fascinated me. I am considerably more informed now than I was before Susanna's talk, and came away with a wonderful flavor of the past and present traditions. Susanna is a very entertaining speaker, and we were treated to many anecdotes and stories along the way.

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Yesterday was the true prize though... a whole day's workshop on the Bohus Stickning company and the legacy it left, crowned by the opportunity to actually view and touch (with white cotton gloves, natch) about ten of the original vintage Bohus garments and accessories. We even got to knit a little wristlet in yarn and colors that are certified to match the *real* Blue Shimmer. Be still, my heart.


Susanna, in her wisdom, allowed us to get right into the knitting first, knowing that as knitters we would be figety unless we could be doing something with our hands. We over ambitiously, as she put it, dove into the tiny skeins and wound them into tiny balls. I looked over and Mel, my workshop mate, had wound hers into the most perfect little balls I had ever seen, so I had to take a picture:

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As pleasurable as the knitting was (and it was VERY pleasurable), it was ecstasy to fondle the Bohus garments. Susanna encouraged us to mentally take the sweaters apart and figure out how they were constructed, which wasn't always easy. Those Bohus knitters did things in ways that were designed to be haute couture, not knitterly. But mostly, it was so much fun to imagine the hands that knit the sweaters and other items, and the people who had purchased and worn them. Some of them had been altered by their owners, or replaced parts of them when they were worn out. It was evident that they had been very loved.

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I know... sigh. It was heaven.

What's left to do but knit one? I will saving up for a while to do this myself, but you can go here to order your own beautiful Bohus sweater kits containing the same gorgeous merino/angora yarn that we had for our little wristlets, handdyed to exacting specifications in Sweden by Solveig Gustaffson. We also found out that Susanna volunteers her time to translate the English patterns from their original Swedish. If you would like to "pay it forward" in honor of her dedication and selflessness, you are asked to give a donation to Knitters without Borders.

We also learned that there will be a magnificent museum exhibition about the Bohus tradition next year (2009) in Minneapolis. Do go if you can.

The parting feeling for me was awe in this wonderful company, which schooled knitters in their techniques and left us with an enduring legacy of beautiful, artfully designed and executed garments. A tradition which I can only hope to continue in my own way...

Oh and by the way? I finished the first opera length Due Amori glove...

5 comments:

Yvonne said...

thanks for the eye candy!!

Melanie said...

Your photos are superb! Thank you for capturing the spirit of the day so elegantly in words.

Breanne said...

The Bohus sweaters are gorgeous! Looks like a really fun day.

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