Monday 13 March 2017

Swedish Bohus Knitting KCG Collection

If you read the previous post about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival I mentioned the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) display which featured Bohus knitting. This is a style of knitting I had heard of but knew little about. Trish who was volunteering on behalf of the KCG told me a brief history. 

Originating in the Swedish province of Bohuslan, Bohus knitting began as a cottage industry to provide income for poor families. Run as a knitting cooperative it was active from 1939 to 1969. Emma Jacobsson was the founder and leading light who recruited artists and designers to produce designs for the cooperative. During the 1940's the distinctive multi coloured style was developed. Eventually, Bohus became highly fashionable with celebrities of the day among the clients such as Ingrid Bergman, Eartha Kit, Grace Kelly to name a few.

The basic knitting technique is very similar to knitting stranded Fair Isle. Whereas stranded Fair Isle colour work is generally knitted in stocking stitch with a smooth finish on the right side. Bohus has rows of purl stitches on the right side giving a texture of raised stitches. Trish was in the process of knitting a small sample which you can see below. The purl stitches are arranged on the right side of the work, both in rows and waves across the sample.

The main display board shows stitch patterns of garments in the collection. If you look to the lower right hand corner you'll notice a photo of the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman.

Bohus sweater design worn by Ingrid Bergman.

An example was on display, no less, of that same sweater design Ingrid Bergman is wearing in the photo above (not the actual sweater though).

The sweater was originally designed by Anna-Lisa Mannheimer circa 1940. The pattern is called The Red Edge and is reproduced in "Poems of Color: Knitting the Bohus Tradition" by Wendy Keele.  Published in 1995 this book has 46 patterns, is full of historical information and photographs from the era. Examples of projects and patterns can be found on the book's Ravelry page.

Further items on display include a hat, scarf and gloves in the distinctive pattern and colour combinations. Items were probably purchased in Sweden around the 1950's and were part of the Coats archive.

I found the display to be inspiring and informative. This is a knitting style I'd like to try, just need to find more hours in the day to fit in the knitting projects I have in mind...