Though I’ve settled down a bit over the last week of Madrona recovery, I still have things to show off: the Bohus Stickning results, the raid on the Habu booth, the softest merino/angora yarn I have ever laid hands on…let’s start with the Bohus Stickning workshop.

Bohus workshop: an afternoon's progress

Bohus Stickning with Susanna Hansson: so interesting. I really enjoyed this workshop. This Swedish style of knitting from the 1930s – 1960s is the most fiddly colourwork I’m likely ever to do. Bohus wasn’t about fun knitting, it was about production knitting to earn cash in hard times. Don’t be confused, these designs aren’t fair isle; they’re a colourwork all their own. Purl stitches: allowed. Four or five different colours used in a given row: allowed. Making things as difficult as possible for the production knitters: also allowed.

The results are so amazing, I feel like they should be in a museum somewhere with original Chanel garments. In the 30s and 40s, the Bohus sweaters were considered high fashion and were sold in Neiman Marcus, among other shops. They sold for prices that, in today’s terms, would fall somewhere between $1500 and $3000 US. Knitting. I know. And they were all knit by average Swedish women, in between all their child-rearing and domestic duties, to pick up some extra cash for their families.

Vintage Blue Egg and Green Wood designs from Susanna Hansson's collection

After lunch, Susanna wheeled out her collection of vintage Bohus sweaters, tams, and mittens. The colour gradations are so unique and change depending on how close or far you are from the garment.

also from Susanna's vintage collection

Let me emphasize that no photo can do these sweaters justice. It was such a treat to look at and handle (albeit with gloves) original Bohus garments. The designers used colour in a way that worked with the uniqueness of knitted fabric – using purl and knit stitches to either blur or emphasize the transition between colours, and using the halo of the yarn as part of the overall effect.

Blue Shimmer wristlets

At the end of the day, Susanna had us all pile our little Bohus bits on a table to see the sum of our efforts. We had all worked on a portion of the famous Blue Shimmer chart, adapted for wristlets. What a lot of work for such little pieces – it put the women who worked for Bohus into even more perspective. Ah, the world before mass production and disposable goods, when things could be beautiful and long-lasting, even if you had to bust your ass to make it.

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