Saturday, January 26, 2008

B is for Bohus

BohusBBohus Stickning
Important note: I have updated much of the information below with a new post!

A Swedish knitting cooperative in operation from 1939 to 1969. The knitters developed a distinctive style that makes use of sophisticated colorwork, especially in combining color with knit/purl changes.

So many wonderful thoughts have been written about Bohus and Bohus-style knitting. I don’t have much new insight to offer, but it’s really the only knitted “B” I can contemplate. And if you look at the patterns in just the right way, B’s do start to emerge.

Most Bohus Stickning garments were knit from blended angora/wool yarn and were knit at 8.5 or more stitches to the inch. The most famous Bohus designs are yoked cardigans. A recent rebirth of interest in Bohus has resulted in some wonderful new (or at least newly-written) patterns, specially-spun & dyed yarns, and even some exhibitions. Collections held by the Bohusläns Museum and Röhss Museum are the most extensive; the Röhss Museum collection also includes original pattern cards. It’s now possible to make a Bohus sweater with Bohus-like yarn and in a Bohus-worthy gauge. Solveig Gustafsson of SOLsilke (in Sweden) offers stunning kits with angora/wool yarns she has hand dyed and patterns (in Swedish, but saintly Susanna Hansson has also translated most of them).

And of course, there is the compelling prospect of being lucky enough to take Susanna Hansson’s class on Bohus Stickning. Her class page is filled with stunning photos, including fantastic close-ups of Bohus garments from her own collection. Fluffbuff has written a great, detailed (and extremely well illustrated!) account of her experience at one of Susanna’s classes.

BohusexpI saw my first photo of Bohus knitting when I read Margaret Bruzelius’s piece in the Threads compilation, Knitting Around the World. Saying I was an instant convert would be something of an understatement. I grabbed whatever fingering weight yarn I could find and made some experiments (at left; this included mohair because I didn’t have any angora), with, well, mixed results. Shortly afterward, a dear friend in Sweden procured the 1980 Häglund & Mesterton book for me, and even luckier, it included some text in English. I didn’t have much longer to wait for Wendy Keele’s delightful book and some bonified patterns. My favorite Bohus pattern remains the one Bruzelius wrote of in her article, which was about exploring her mother’s Bohus sweater. I think the pattern is called the “Blue Tone,” by Annika Malmström-Bladini.

blueshimmer2More experiments ensued. Pictured here (right) is a sample of the beautiful “Blue Shimmer” pattern, primarily in a lightweight alpaca, which was somewhat suitable, but not quite the heart-stoppingly beautiful original in angora/wool.

Dean_cap1The photo at left depicts a hat knit in the Bohus Dean pattern, as charted by Wendy Keele in Poems of Color (see below).

According to Keele, Anna-Lisa Mannheimer Lunn designed “Dean;” she was inspired by the African-American conductor, Dean Dixon, who had appeared in concert with a blue shirt. Since he was the principle conductor for the Gothenburg (Sweden) Symphony Orchestra from 1953 to 1960, I presume that is when she designed it.

I knit the hat with yarn from a kit produced by Kimmet Croft Fibers Fairy Hare, around the time Keele’s book came out. I knit it at a slightly finer gauge than called for in the pattern: 8 st./inch. I believe that Kimmet Croft has, alas, since sold. But their yarns are available through Stagecoach Yarns.

I hope in the not too distant future to add an image of a whole Bohus sweater...
[updated info in a later post]

Bohus Bib
More Resources

A is for Artichoke

Artichoke. Cynara scolymus.

And a really great design motif.

William Morris created a number of artichoke designs, the most memorable of which is the Artichoke Tapestry in the Morris Gallery, Walthamstow. See Beth Russell’s site for an image of the artichoke tapestry. Others Morris artichoke designs include artichoke fabric, artichoke wallpaper (many attribute the design to Morris’s assistant, John Henry Dearle). Another design for artichoke wallpaper (this done by Walter Crane) was for Jeffrey & Co., around 1895.

In short: artichokes make great graphic food!

The artichoke has been my icon (mascot? totem? emblem? device?) for some time now. I began designing the bit of knitting pictured above out of fingering-weight Shetland yarn at least ten years ago as something of a rank badge, thinking that I would set it into a larger sweater. If you look hard, you can see the date on either side of the artichoke—in the style of dated Swedish North Halland sweaters. But I’ve changed my mind. Now I want to make it into a full cardigan, and am working out the details. I’d like to use up all the Alice Starmore campion yarn I accumulated in the mid-90s & this seems like an ideal way to do it.

If you like artichokes too, there are some great knitting patterns available:
If you know of any others, please share links by adding a comment below!