Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Exciting Bohus Class + Announcement

A few weekends ago I was lucky. Lucky, indeed. There was an opening in the Bohus Stickning class on during this year’s Minnesota Knitter’s Guild Yarnover event - and I was able to use it. Wahoo!
Bohus Stickning (Bohus knitting) has this fantastic duality:

1. The designs and garments are gorgeous: fantastic studies of color, absolutely gorgeous designs, and high-quality wool blends for absolutely dreamy knitted fabric.

2. The story behind Bohus Stickning is terribly facinating—it’s creator Emma Jacobsson was quite a woman. She started this cottage industry due to economic need: a world-wide economic downturn + a gravel industry gone bad in Sweden (asphalt roads!) left families in need of sustinance. Bohus garments truly were luxury sweaters knit by this cottage industry for the very rich to wear* Two owners: Grace Kelly & Eartha Kitt

To me, this combo-platter is utterly inspirational. To learn more, you might want to pick up Wendy Keele’s book Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition.

The class, taught by Susanna Hansson (below) was absolutely stellar.
She's holding up an authentic Blue Shimmer garment from her extensive collection.
Over the years, this design was the most popular with the public.

Susanna has thought through how to keep her audience entertained as she talked about the fascinating history of Bohus knitting: wind gorgeous bits of angora/merino fingering-weight yarn!

Here Susanna demos how to avoid nasty puckers in your colorwork:

The class project was a wee taste of Bohus knitting: Blue Shimmer wristlets! Aren't they adorable? (Some knitters elected to make sock cuffs instead).

Here are two examples of wristlets from Susanna's collection.

They're different. Do you like one more than the other?One is knit with bohus texture (left), the other is knit plain- just like regular fair isle work. Of course, Bohus knitting also often incorporated multiple colors per row instead of fair isle's mainstay of two.

Fellow classmates Pam and Paula work on their wristlets.During a full-day class, I didn't get much further than this. Apparently I talk too much, take too many breaks-- or am an exceedingly slow knitter! :)

I knit the largest size-- but should have opted for at least one size smaller. They're loose, but still lovely.

At the end of the class we lined up our work. My favorite part of the class was spending time with Susanna's gorgeous collection of Bohus garments. They're absolutely dreamy.

If you are petite enough, you could try them on. Here Pam wears a non-authentic Bohus garment. It's the Large Lace Collar design, and is knit with bohus-quality yarn. The sweater, however, is not true to design. Susanna surmised that a Bohus knitter decided to make this design 'update' for a sweater of her own. Pam also tried on the blue variant of The Egg:
I just love this one: Someone (probably an American per Susanna) special ordered a Blue Shimmer with a dark main color. It's next to the original design. Gorgeous, no?
It was incredibly hard to capture the gorgeousness of this design. It's The Azalea.
Without Susanna's guidance, I never would have noticed that this design is exactly the same as The Egg-- it's just in a different colorway! Susanna seemed to directly hint that Solveig may very well have The Azalea ready for sale sometime soon. Re: in the next year or two. (Use this link to see all of Solveig's available kits in Bohus-quality yarns. The patterns are available in English as translated by Susanna.) Knit swatches of popular designs were on view along with Bohus Stickning books in Swedish. (I have purchased both of these directly from Sweden. Email AnneSofie in English for availability. Her site is not updated often.) On the left is a design I've never seen before: Dallas. On the right is The Blue Flower. Oh, and here are my finished wristlets.

Just a few days after the class I had the luxury to chat with Joan Schrouder during the April Minnesota Knitter's Guild meeting. She knit the Blue Shimmer (the actual) sweater photographed in Poems of Color. Joan has also done what many of us thought impossible: She has steeked a Bohus knit in the round to knit a cardigan. What a rebel! She's my knitting hero of the week. :)

Finally, during the class Susanna made an exciting announcement for Bohus enthusiasts. Here in Susanna's words:

Dear Bohus Knitting Friend,

I have some wonderful news and I wanted all of you, my special Bohus devotees, to be the first to hear, and hopefully mark your calendars:

There will be a Bohus Stickning exhibit in America in 2009! It will be held at the American-Swedish Institute in Minneapolis between January 23rd and March 29th, 2009.

Many things about the exhibit are still undecided but during the opening weekend the Institute is hoping to host celebrity guests and present lectures, expert guidance through the exhibit, and show a brand new Swedish documentary film (with English subtitles) about Bohus Stickning. It is even possible that a special Bohus garment will be re-created and released for sale in conjunction with the exhibit.

I hope that many of you will be able to come - if not for the opening weekend festivities, then at least at some point while the exhibit is showing- to celebrate this great event and ASI’s willingness to provide exhibition space for these wonderful garments. This is something I have been dreaming of for for a long time and I am so very happy that it is now in the works for real!

The last time there was a Bohus exhibit was in conjunction with the World’s Fair in New York in 1964 so it is about time for another one, don’t you think?

Warmly, Susanna


Anonymous said...

Why, how ever so convenient...the ASI so very close to so very many good places to eat...I foresee a group knitting/eating outing!

Guinifer said...

Wow, those are some gorgeous sweaters. I really love the reddish one...

Miss T said...

What Amy said!

Kay said...

Loved your post on these sweaters! Absolutely fascinating and, of course, beautiful!

ali said...

Very cool news about the upcoming exhibit!

Happy knitting-

born in carbondale said...

Deb, I am putting this on my calender NOW! Fascinating post.

Diane said...

What a wonderful class. Lucky you!

limedragon :-: Harriet said...

Ooh, thanks for the info on the ASI exhibit; I'll definitely go.

Looks like a fun class, thanks for all the pictures. : )