Finnish needlecraft

I have quite a few foreign visitors in my blog. According to recent statistics, I should write in Portuguese or Turkish rather than in Finnish and English. But I can't, unfortunately. Therefore, let three languages suffice. Or sometimes only two, for today I have no time to write in French, sorry).

Since this is a Finnish blog, I assume many of my readers would like to see here something Finnish. But what is typically Finnish needlecraft? I went to the library, borrowed some books and tried to find out.

My today's posting is mainly based on these two books and the pictures are from these books, too:

  • Almay, Mirja, Luutonen, Marketta & Mitronen, Kyllikki: Sydämenlämmittäjä ja tikkuripaita: Perinteisiä neuleita Suomesta ja Eestistä. Helsinki: Tammi, 1993. ISBN 951-31-0089-9 (English summary)

  • Olki, Mary: Mary Oljen kauneimmat käsityöt. 3. p. Porvoo: WSOY, 1981.
I remember from my childhood - some five decades ago - that my grandma used to knit socks. Grey socks, and nothing else. That's funny because I remember that our sheep were white. But the wool was sent to a spinning mill, and we got grey sock yarn in return. Sometimes the socks had a couple of thin coloured stripes, and they were always blue. She was religious, and blue was the only colour that was allowed. Then we had mittens and wool hats and scarves, somebody must have made them, but I don't remember who. Maybe my mother. I remember one green pullover that she made for my little brother. I was allergic to wool as a child. That's pretty ironic, considering what a wool fan I've become.

The only person who crocheted in our family was I who had learned to crochet at school and later from needlecraft magazines. I read somewhere that crochet was considered as a less useful activity, more or less futile and vane. But I loved crochet and made many doilies, bedspreads, and lace curtains in my youth.

But back to the topic. At least these things are typically Finnish:

  1. Four seasons, during at least three of which warm clothing is needed. Even in summer, we sometimes need wool shawls and cardigans, and wool socks in rubber boots are always the best choice.

  2. Finnish landrace sheep
    The Finns have an indigenous sheep race breed, which is small in size but very strong and good for all possible purposes, quite like the Finnish horse. Other breeds have been imported to the country, but the Finnsheep still has its affectionados.

    The Finnsheep wool was the secret weapon during the Winter War (1939-40) which helped the Finns endure the harsh winter conditions and retain their independence.

    There are still a few spinning mills in Finland. Pirtin Kehräämö is probably the biggest. It is a pity that it's not easy to find Finnsheep wool yarn in the shops. I heard from a mill that most of the wool goes to making felted boots. The Finnwool felts easily, which is one of the reasons for its popularity, but as a Finnwool fan, as you have already notices, I especially like its luster and touch.

  3. Naalbinding technique
    'Needlebinding' is probably an older technique than knitting. It resembles a little bit darning, and is done with a coarse needle made of wood, bone, or metal. The resulted fabric is sturdy, warm and does not run. This technique has been used more in Eastern Finland; I am not familiar with it. To find more information on the technique, just google 'naalbinding'.

  4. Tapestry crochet
    Tapestry croched combined to knitting is a speciality of the Swedish-speaking west coast. One of the finest examples is the Korsnäs sweater.

    There is a nice closeup of the Korsnäs sweater on the home page of the Ostrobothnian Museum.

    The groom's braces with tassels and the hat remind me rather of the Balkans than of a Finnish groom but these are also from Ostrobothnia.

  5. Crocheted mittens

    On tapestry crochet:
    http://www.kaspaikka.fi/vanhat/fleen/kirjov.html (in Finnish)
    http://iweb.tntech.edu/cventura/tapestrycrochet.htm (in English)

  6. Bosnian crochet
    To me, crocheted mittens in single colour seem more familiar. I have made some myself and shown them in my blog.

    This technique is called smygsmaskvirkning in Swedish, or Bosnian crochet. My mother, who is now 84, told me that when she was a child there was an old lady going from house to house who made this kind of mittens. She spun the yarn herself, a very loosely spun yarn, used a special tool, which she never showed to anyone, and kept the mittens so carefully hidden in her lap that nobody saw how she made them. My mother was quite surprised when she saw that I had crocheted mittens in the same way. Modern times, with modern magazines.

  7. Finnish knitting patterns
    The jacquard knitting patterns are mostly from other Nordic countries, like Norway, but often simpler.

    For a present-day Finn, a Jussi (John) sweater is very Finnish indeed. However, the pattern is fairly recent, from 1914. The original colours were burgundy and grey.

    Vilma has recently made a traditional 'Tikkuri' sweater for her husband. Clearly, this sweater has been influenced by the traditional Guernsey sweaters.

6 kommenttia:

Emma kirjoitti...

Wow, what a great post. Thanks for all the info, and the memories of Grandma's sock knitting!

Rineke kirjoitti...

Thanks Pirkko! That was enlightening. I especially like the tapestry crochet tings, they're beautiful.

Villasukka kirjoitti...

My granny too (mother's mother) knitted only grey socks (she did weave colourful carpets though...). The other granny (father's mother) was and still is the black sheep of the family in many ways - and she knitted everything - preferably in red - and she crocheted even more.

juuli kirjoitti...

Piilosilmukoin virkatut lapaset eivät auenneet vaikka katsoin viimevuotista kuvaasi. Onko jossain linkkiä tai ohjetta, jossa näytettäisiin "kädestä pitäen".
Piilosilmukka on mielestäni sellainen yksinkertainen silmukka, joka vain vedetään kiinni, mutta pinnasta tulee mielestäni ihan erilaista kuin kuvassa.

froukje kirjoitti...

Thanks for the great post! I really would like to have felted boots, but alas: on the site you are linking to there's no indication of prices or ways to order....
I was very intrigued by the tapestry crochet; must try that (when I finished my zillion other projects.....SIGH)

Pirkko kirjoitti...

Hi Froukje & co.: Thank you for your comments, it's nice to know you find this useful.
The factory that makes felted boots has a net shop (only in Finnish, though) at http://www.huopaliikelahtinen.fi/tuoteluettelo.php. There you can check the prices.

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