Norway is a knitter’s paradise. The “Norwegian sweaters” with their bi- and multicolor patterns were and are a statement – and the lighthouse of a very rich and old knitting tradition.
My first Christmas in Norway I was given one of these sweaters in the Marius pattern – without you are an outsider in this country. But Norwegian knit designers are also creating very interesting new patterns – and they have a clientele. Then knitting becomes more and more popular also with young people. I remember visiting a mother of 3 who had alt least 3 knitting projects nicely lined up at the edge of the sofa.
You can also judge how popular knitting is by the locations of yarn stores. They can be found in the local shop on a remote island and in shopping malls in Oslo and Tromsoe. Try to find knitting yarn in a London shopping center!
You can buy yarn in small shops all over the country, but often you can get only one brand. From Switzerland I am used to having less shops but a wider range of yarn brands. In the North I soon had my favorite yarn: Sandnes Garn. Beautiful colors, smooth to knit and wonderful to wear. Most was transformed into baby clothes – and none of them ever complained. The company has a selling rule though that is hard to understand: You can buy a booklet with instructions only if you buy it together with the rather pricely Sandnes yarn. Obviously they do not want to waste their creative designs to users of cheap yarn. I considered to be angry with that company, but only until I needed yarn for my next project.
The newest addition to my yarn stash is really special: wool from the island Doenna where DHH’s family owns a house right at the shore: best views of the outer islands and the sunset, if it ever sets. Because we are at the Arctic cercle here. When you drive the roads of Doenna you see a lot of sheep. And more and more old breeds like the gammelnorsk sau (the old Norwegian sheep) or the troendersau (sheep from Trondheim area) or the norsk pelssau (Norwegian fur sheep). The Norwegian sheep and goat association lists 19 different sheep races. One of the 2 yarn shops on the island sells yarn from these Doenna sheep. The yarns are undyed and come in different colors, from beige to dark brown or grey. Of course Doenna is too small an island to have it’s own spinning mill. But there is a young company called Telespinn. This is how they present themselves on the net: Telespinn AS is a limited company established in 2008. The spinnery is a mini mill and we are located on the farm Midt-Svartdal in Seljord municipality in Telemark. The shareholders are mostly other mohair goat farmers and people who are interested in preservering the unique cultural landscape in the valley Svartdal.
In addition to the spinning of mohair they also do lease spinning. That is why we can buy this exclusive yarn from Doenna. I have a project in mind with this yarn – but nothing yet to show.
I did though knit while in Doenna. And it sounds very international: The yarn is from Switzerland, the wonderful colour changing yarn from Zaubergarten, the pattern is called Bermuda scarf. And the almost finished scarf fits perfectly in the Doenna landscape.
For people who want a better insight to the Norwegian wool production I can recommend paper-tiger.net. Diana Walla, a Canadian living in the very North of Norway, in Tromsoe. She is – in her own words – working toward a MPhil in Theoretical Linguistics. In my spare time I’m a knitwear designer, photographer, and writer. She does not only create beautiful knitting patterns, she also explains Norway in her blog posts. And she is a wonderfl source for Norwegian yarn and yarn industry. Very recently she presented the Selbu spinnery, another micro spinning mill.
Pilzie on Ravelry (my own account with some more photos from the Bermuda scarf)