Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bohus Stickning (or miniature knitting for pattern junkies)

Being the glutton for challenge, adventure and general fiber learning, I was intrigued by a posting for a class on Bohus Stickning. The intrigue began with the name. I did the natural thing, I googled it. Wow, great pictures and what do you know, I own a book that seems to feature that very subject! Poems of Color was a book purchase that I made simply because it had a great cover. That and lots of pictures of sketches on graph paper representing color combinations and designs for knitting. The artist in me was very excited. The knitter in me did not know quite what to think.

The class was being taught by Susanna Hansson. She would be in town for the weekend and there were a couple of choices, Sunday's class was for mittens, using a unique method for carrying color up the mitt for color designs that ran vertically. The pattern for these mittens and a great description was in last month's Piecework magazine (the one with the poem mittens on the cover). I have the magazine, and may one day make the mittens.

The Saturday class was the one that caught my eye. It was described as an introduction to the history of this type of knitting and a workshop to make the historic Bohus Blue Shimmer cuffs (see her website, they are beautiful!) I wanted to know more about the history of knitting in general and liked the aspect of the artistic uniqueness of a group of women creating wonderful wool and angora blend patterned sweaters on tiny needles for the wealthy.

I started some cuffs, on the tiny (size 00 needles) using the color chart that has repeats of different multiples for each section. This requires increases and decreases to make them work out. It also requires a magnification device, plenty of eye rest and a marker to keep your place. Who would have thought that the advent of asphalt would begin an artistic movement in knitting? The hubbies who used to work in stone found themselves out of work in the quarries when asphalt was developed, so the women came to the rescue. They did their usual home bound laundry, kids, cooking and cleaning bit, then settled in for the evening. By dim light, using essentially bike spokes, they carefully planned and knit these fantastic sweaters. The yarn was weighed before they received it and weighed again as the sweater to be sure that the lowly artisans would not keep any materials for themselves.

My cuffs are not done, thanks to the Hanami in all its glory (3x the 32 row pattern-done) but will be. Maybe when the weather suggests the need for them, or possibly sooner. My friend Cheryl, well, let's just say she is a machine. Hers are done and she is ALSO working on the Hanami, I must find some way to slow her down!

I studied art history in college, as a way to appreciate the development of art movements. I guess it is only natural that it would be interesting to learn about the history of knitting for different purposes and in different cultures. Bohus Stickning is a bit highbrow, but lovely and interesting. Now, a whole sweater on miniature needles....I would go blind.

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