Finland

Finnish Crochet Traditional

EAST MEETS WEST ill Finland. Its knitted sweaters and mittens are imbued with colors and patterns that beckon one eastward. Their colors are stronger and more '. jjninous than in the rest of Scandinavia.

In N&dendal, a little city just north of Abo, there was a Birgittine cloister which was famous for its stockings and mittens. After the Reformation. when the cloisters lost their large estates, the nuns began to produce stockings and mittens to remain self-supporting. There is some dispute is to whether the garments were knitted or made in idlbinding. But most experts agree that stockings were knitted for export from Nadendal starting in the seventeenth century.

During the eighteenth century, NSdendal was a stocking city, and men, women, and children were involved in the craft. Knitting had b e:ome such a phenomenon that the city officials forbade knitting in public places—it was considered shameful.

Later on, knitted dolls were a specialty in Nadendal. At the end of the nineteenth century, the dolls were popular souvenirs for the Russian and Finnish socialites who came to the resort town. Dolls are still sold to tourists, but today they are nuns with knitting needles and skeins of yarn.

STOCKINGS FOR LIFE

Traditionally, before marrying, a girl had to have made enough pairs of stockings to last for 20 years or so. Girls became skillful stocking knitters and collected their work in wooden dowry chests. Some girls made enough stockings to last a lifetime.

In Osterbotten, as in many other areas in

Scandinavia, it was customary for girls, after they had been confirmed, to sleep outside in sheds or in lofts in the summer. Girls were regarded as mature enough then to have contact with boys. Their textile collections were hung in the sheds ready for inspection when the boys came for nocturnal visits. The richer the farmstead, the more finely "clothed" the girls' shed was. Sheets, hand towels, and skirts hung from the walls and ceiling, and the stockings were hung between the scarves and legging bands.

Sheep were shorn three times a year in Osterbotten. The long fall clip was used for knit ting stockings. Knitted stockings were fulled and hung to dry on blocking boards so that they would be quite tight and warm. Women carded, spun and knitted for their own family, and knitting stockings was part of the servants' work. When the weather was too miserable for outside work, the maids had to sit inside and knit.

Cotton was a new and fashionable fiber during the nineteenth century, and in many areas : f the country, festival and church stockings were knitted in white linen or cotton yarn. In several districts, red-and-white-striped stocking shafts began to be popular. The foot part wasn't visible

Korsnas Crochet

The patterns and style of these mittens were taken from a pair of old mittens from Tjock in south Osterbotten. The original mittens, made before the First World War, are in Abo's provincial museum. They were knitted with lustrous, almost gaudy synthetic colors on a white background. A black ground was also common on this type of mitten. Instructions, page 112. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

Susanne Pagoldh

Scandinavia, it was customary for girls, after they had been confirmed, to sleep outside in sheds or in lofts in the summer. Girls were regarded as mature enough then to have contact with boys. Their textile collections were hung in the sheds ready for inspection when the boys came for nocturnal visits. The richer the farmstead, the more finely "clothed" the girls' shed was. Sheets, hand towels, and skirts hung from the walls and ceiling, and the stockings were hung between the scarves and legging bands.

Sheep were shorn three times a year in Osterbotten. The long fall clip was used for knit ting stockings. Knitted stockings were fulled and hung to dry on blocking boards so that they would be quite tight and warm. Women carded, spun and knitted for their own family, and knitting stockings was part of the servants' work. When the weather was too miserable for outside work, the maids had to sit inside and knit.

Cotton was a new and fashionable fiber during the nineteenth century, and in many areas : f the country, festival and church stockings were knitted in white linen or cotton yarn. In several districts, red-and-white-striped stocking shad:; began to be popular. The foot part wasn't visible

Finland Knitting Patterns

The patterns and style of these mittens were taken from a pair of old mittens from Tjock in south Osterbotten. The original mittens, made before the First World War, are in Abo's provincial museum. They were knitted with lustrous, almost gaudy synthetic colors on a white background. A black ground was also common on this type of mitten. Instructions, page 112. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

The People Osterbotten

so it was usually knitted just in white. Red-and-white-striped cotton stockings were also knitted in Sweden.

People wore pattern-knitted stockings, in both wool and cotton, for holiday clothing. In Osterbotten, most of the embellished stockings had twisted, scroll, or zigzag striping or checks. Basketweave squares (or birch-bark squares, as the technique of knitting entrelac was called) were seen in many parts of Finland but were most common in Tavastland and Osterbotten. Black, red, yellow, and green were the preferred colors for platta or dammspelastrumpona, as the checked patterns were called.

LEGGINGS

Knitted stockings were common in Finland even in the eighteenth century, but footless leggings, or benholkar, were also worn. Sometimes, leggings were worn with shoes stuffed with hay or straw. Another style of footwear stems from the women's tradition of having different kinds of coverings for their legs and feet. The earliest leggings were sewn of fabric, but eventually they were knitted instead. In many cases, the leggings began as stockings. When the stocking feet were worn out, the torn sections were cut away. Today's leg warmers, which are so popular with teenagers, descend from the leggings.

Stockings were impractical for wearing with birch-bark shoes, which used to be worn in east Finland, since the shoes couldn't repel water. For summer wear, leggings were knitted in cotton and linen yarns. The leggings were a good protection for the legs of women working outdoors on the farm; otherwise, they would get scratched up by straw and stubble. For work inside the house, leggings were quite comfortable.

During the winter, women in certain districts wore short socks inside leather-soled birch-bark shoes, wool leggings for the lower legs, and knitted linen knee protectors. Knee protectors and leggings were held up with bands knotted under the knee. These were considered shabby and ugly.

This cotton stocking leg with entrelac, or birch-bark, patterning is from the Kristinestad district in Osterbotten. Similar diagonal patchwork stockings were knitted in Norway and Sweden. This stocking leg is in the Swedish-Finnish Textile Archive. Technique described on page 116. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

PATTERNED FESTIVAL SWEATERS

The upper classes and some city bourgeois wore knitted sweaters as early as the 1600s. Both men and women wore these garments, which could be bought ready-made or imported. However, it wasn't until well into the nineteenth century that sweaters were worn by the ordinary people out in remote areas of the country.

During the 1830s, both men's and women's sweaters were knitted in Kymmenedalen. They were one-colored or had multicolored zigzag patterns in striking colors. Unfortunately, not a single one of these sweaters remains, but there are many sweaters from Osterbotten. Some of these are wool or cotton lice sweaters with patterns on

Portom Finland

Ann-Cathrine Wasmuth Ericson has used the designs and patterns from fragments of a man's cotton sweater from Vorâ in Osterbotten for the child's sweater pictured here. The adult-sized sweater is knitted in a wider, less fitted style than the original, which was from Pôrtom and is now in the Swedish-Finnish Textile Archive. Note the placement of the patterns. The Osterbotten sweater is reminiscent of Norwegian lice sweaters (see pages 47 and 49), but the patterns go farther up the sleeves. Instructions, pages 90 and 91. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

Korsnas Finland

76 FINLAND

the shoulders and sleeves, and some are the special sweaters from Korsnâs which are both knitted and crocheted. Two-color sweaters with carnation patterns were also knitted in Korsnâs.

The seed-pattern sweaters from Pôrtom and Vbrà have been made since the end of the nineteenth century. Cotton sweaters were considered Sner garments and were reserved for holiday wear. For every day, simple undyed wool sweaters were more suitable. Some of these had simple stripe patterns. Most of the patterned sweaters - ere knitted for men and boys. Young girls knitted these labor-intensive sweaters as gifts for their fiancés. Similar seed-pattern sweaters were also knitted in other areas of the country.

Part of the reason so much knitting has been creserved from the Swedish-speaking areas is the rich textile tradition in Ôsterbotten. It is also t artly due to the Swedish-speaking people's strong interest in folk costumes.

During the years 1928-1935, Hjôrdis Dahl bicycled from farm to farm in the Swedish vil-lages. collecting textiles for what would become Martha's Handicraft Archive. She worked for Finland's Swedish Martha Collective, a union of 5—edish-speaking women. Hjôrdis searched thr : ugh attics, sheds, and rag sacks to save what "as left of the peasant textiles. She made her tour through the villages just in the nick of time, luring the war years which followed soon after-ard. many fine wool garments were sold as wool rags. There were a few professional knitters left, : tit knitting was on the way to becoming a hobby rather than a household necessity.

Now, Martha's Handicraft Archive has a number of samplers and garments. Martha's Ar-chive is the foundation of the Swedish-Finnish Textile Archive in Dragsfjârd in the Abo archipel-ago.

- his means that anyone interested in handi-iratts can come and study and receive inspiration rr : m the collections.

KORSNÂS SWEATERS

A very special type of sweater developed in a little area around Korsnâs in Ôsterbotten. These

Korsnas Knitting

unique sweaters have both pattern knitting and pattern crocheting. The shoulders, sleeves, and lower edges of the body are crocheted, making those parts form-fitting and inelastic. The other parts are knitted, giving more flexibility around the stomach and elbows. If you think about how much a stomach can change in form and size during a lifetime, then the elasticity is quite important. By the same token, the crocheted sections keep the sweater from stretching out too

Portom Finland

(right) This cotton knitting sampler is from Pyttis in Ny-land and is now in the Swedish-Finn-ish Textile Archive. Similar cross patterns were knitted on stockings in Estonia. Photo: Kamera-Boden, Abo.

An old patched man's wool sweater from Pôrtom in Ôsterbotten was the inspiration for this new sweater. The original was buttoned on the left shoulder and shaped at the waist. The new design is wider and less fitted and knitted with softer and thicker Aland wool yarns. The original sweater is in the Swedish-Finnish Textile Archive. Instructions, page 87. Photo: Susanne Pagoldh.

much. Crocheting also keeps the lower edge from getting wide and unshapely, which can happen to old knitted sweaters that have been washed too often.

The oldest information on Korsnas sweaters is from 1854. The sweaters have been made and worn in Korsnas since then without a break except during wartime, when there was a shortage of materials. Gretel Dahlberg, who was born and raised in Tojby (south of Korsnas), has devoted many years to research on the history of the sweaters and the people who made and wore them. When she was a little girl, she was a frequent visitor to her uncle's and the parish's dyeworks, Frans Lunds. She was fascinated by the dyeworks, and while she sat there together with her mother and female relatives doing handwork, they heard many stories about the colorful sweaters. Her great-grandmother made Korsnas sweaters, and Gretel has continued the tradition in a more modern way: she teaches courses and has written a book, Korsnas Sweaters Then and Now.

In most of the villages in the Korsnas district, there were expert workers—women who were specialists in crocheting the color-rich patterns. The master didn't work the knitted parts alone: three or four other knitters would help her. They would sit in a circle with knees touching and knit around on the sweater body. The most expert knitters knitted the seed-pattern rounds while the others did the plain rounds. But some - : — er did all the knitting and crocheting on the sweaters themselves. For a master, this couli take about three weeks.

Most of the Korsnas sweaters were ntaie :; women for men. The sweaters were a part :: the traditional men's folk costumes in Korsnas art were worn tucked into trousers under a vest srh crocheted suspenders. The suspenders were ret and had pattern figures matching those :r the sweater edges. Crocheted and patterned roba.cc: and coin pouches were also part of the c : srutres Women also wore these sweaters but didn't usually have the time to knit their own.

Men usually received their sweaters as engagement gifts, but the sweaters might als: be given to important people, such as the rr.e;: -teacher, or, as was done at the beginning ::" this century, to midwives. Aurora Berg usually w - e her Korsnas sweater when she rode out in i sleigh or skied to a place to help bring a new baby into the world. The sweater had been a gift to h;r from the women of Korsnas.

No Korsnas sweater is exactly like ancther Gretel Dahlberg compares making one ::" these sweaters to the creation of a work of art Th: - e who knit and crochet the sweaters cont't .re traditional patterns and colors with their own: ie as Some sweaters have four colors, while rther; have six.

One reason that these sweaters are so r_ chr colored is that Korsnas has had its own parish dyer since 1854. Ulrik Ingstrom was the first dyer. Before he opened his dyeworks at Hinikke mill in Korsnas, he had lived in St. Petersburg for a few years and had learned his trade there. The dye materials, which made so many sweaters and mittens sparkle and glow, came from the large German factories of Bayer Leverkusen and IG Farben.

The knitted sections of the sweaters had seed patterns in red and blue or red and green on a natural white background. The crocheted parts were always red with figures in blue, green, yellow, light red, orange, or lilac. Both wool and cotton yarns were used. Some dyeing was also done at home, with either purchased dye materials or hand-prepared plant materials. The red colors on the old sweaters varied considerably, from red-brown to raspberry. Patterns from the sweaters were also knitted or crocheted on caps and mittens.

Usually these colorful sweaters were worn for festivals and Sundays. When a sweater was worn out, it would be worn under a shirt for heavy work or seal hunting. But Korsnas sweaters didn't wear out quickly. A good-quality, three-ply wool yarn was handspun for the sweaters. The neck opening was squared, and as deep in the back as in the front so that either side could be worn at the front. If the sweater was turned often, it would wear evenly on all sides. When the lower edges of the body and sleeves eventually did wear out, new edges could be crocheted on. In this way, the sweaters could last for three generations.

The sweaters used to be worn only in Korsnas, but now anyone who finds them attractive can wear them. The designs have spread to Sweden via weekly magazines and knitting books, and they traveled to the United States with the Osterbotten people who emigrated there. Sweaters are also brought by visitors to Korsnas.

There are still women who knit the sweaters by special order and many who take courses to learn how to make them. Most of Gretel Dahlberg's students are older women, but during the last few years, some younger women have also become interested in the Korsnas sweaters.

PRACTICAL MITTENS

When the Finnish winters were at their worst, people often wore two pairs of mittens. There were various types of mittens, either knitted or made in n&lbinding, in white or gray wool. Another way to fight the cold was to wear knitted wool mittens inside larger skin mittens. Wool

Finland Sweaters

This Korsnas ( Osterbotten) sweater is partly knitted and partly crocheted. Gretel Dahlberg, who made the sweater, also dyed the yarns. The reds come from madder and cochineal, yellow from onion skins, and green from reeds. Older Korsnas sweaters were dyed with both synthetic and natural dyes, which were occasionally mixed. Photo: Susanne

A wool holiday mitten from Karelia. The mitten is in Abo's provincial museum. Photo: Pekka Kujanpaa, 1987.

Holiday Mittens
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Responses

  • fatima
    How to knit Finland mittens?
    6 years ago
  • GIRMA
    Where can i get knitted finnish sweater for men?
    6 years ago
  • MILEN
    What people wore 1987?
    6 years ago
  • pirkka
    How were world war two knitting patterns created?
    2 years ago
  • Dale
    What pattern's were most choosen for world war two knitting?
    2 years ago

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