Oslo Design Fair August 2019

Last Wednesday Michael and I attended the Oslo Design Fair in Lillestrøm. As always it was a great opportunity to meet Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk since they are located in Bergen on the coast and also other designers, as well as yarn companies and agents. Michael and I arrived in time for the press breakfast talk that introduced to the trade fair and its current topic: ”Rethink”. The modules in massive wood by Vardehaugen Arkitekter exhibited will be given a new life after the fair as cottages at Træna and in Sweden. The modules can easily be changed and put together depending on your need. Below you see a photo Michael took of the so-called Tower.

All the talks and most of the interior companies were located in Hall C, while the yarn companies were in Hall B, at the fair. Below you see me talking to MD Øyvind Myhr and Anette Toft at the Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk stand. They have made a new catalogue with my latest designs: Epona Pullover, Macha Jacket & Cowl and Gillah Swoncho. I am pleased to tell you that they wanted 4 new designs for the spring and that I have started working on those.

House of Yarn, consists of several separate companies some of them with previous lives but now joined into one: Dale Garn, Du Store Alpakka, Gjestal Garn, Camilla Pihl Strikk, Gullungen Garn, Oransje Skjerf Garn, Rosa Sløyfe Garn, and Linde Garn. The 1980s have come back and I am not too keen on the revival since I lived through it once already. There was no fashion show but House of Yarn did have a video of their fashion show running on their large stand. There were plenty of new yarns to look at and fondle.

I also talked with Thomas Kvist of House of Hobbies. He is the Scandinavian agent for the Italian yarn producer Lana Gatto and for the American Distributor Knitting Fever. Thomas talked me through the new yarns. On his stand was also designer Tove Lindtein who has used a number of the Lana Gatto yarns in her upcoming book that will be launched in November. We had a long talk about making books and knitting workshops.

Michael and I met up with Tove Fevang (centre), Bente Presterud (right), Sidsel Høivik (left) and Gro Sandvik (next to Bente) for lunch. I had not met Gro before but know the other designers from years back. It was a great opportunity for us to meet and update each other.

I must also show you a photo of the marvellous Japanese inspired stand that Kaja Gjedebo Design had set up in Hall B.

Kaja had commissioned fashion drawings to have on the wall of her stand. They were graphic black and white drawings, that lured you into her stand. Her artistic jewellery is so stunning and so beautifully displayed on the fair. I did enjoy hanging out here, I must admit. Late in the afternoon Michael and I headed home. The trade fair was on both Thursday and Friday too but this time the trade fair ended on Friday without any public days.


Visit at Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk

Yes, I have finally been to visit Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk at Hjelmås, outside of Bergen. Just to clarify, it is not that I have not been invited before, but because it is far from where I live, on the west coast of Norway. My collaboration with Hillesvåg goes back to 2012, when they sponsored yarn for my Norwegian book and to the sixth collection of designs I am currently working on, which they make yarn kits for. At the end of November I flew from Oslo to Bergen to hold a presentation at The Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum and used the opportunity to visit Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. I traveled by ferry from Bergen to Knarvik Kai/Quay where CEO Øyvind Myhr met me and drove to the near by factory on the north side of the Osterfjorden. The entrance trough the shop is to the right of this picture. Hillesvåg is a family business from 1898, now run by the 4th generation and one of the few factories left in Norway that produces yarn from Norwegian wool.

Hillesvåg is an Économusée, that uses traditional craft techniques and uses old machinery to make their yarn and tops. Watch this video that introduces the factory and you will see that their oldest working machine is from 1835. They do have some spare parts to these machines, but if they do not, they have to make it from scratch. See this newspaper article from the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

The ferry only took 20 minutes to Knarvik and it was less than 10 minutes to drive the last part. The view towards the fjord is equally enticing. I had worked intensely to be able to bring the 4 new designs for the sixth collection to them, instead of sending them. So revealing the new designs and seeing how they looked on me was first on the agenda, after I had met Øyvind’s wife Anette Toft, who deals with customer & designer relations, and in-house designer Berit Løkken. It was fun for me to see their reaction, so I thoroughly enjoyed this delivery in person.

Next on the agenda was Øyvind taking me on a tour of the factory. We started downstairs in the basement. Here is Øyvind standing next to washed white Norwegian wool. The washing is done in the UK, and it comes back in large bags and expands whey they are opened.

The pelsull/pelt wool is a lot greyer but also silkier in its apperance than the white wool.  Øyvind is very happy that they did start producing the pelt wool yarn in the spring of 2012. It comes from the Pelt Sheep which is a mixed breed of the Old Norwegian Short Tail Landrace the Blue/Grey kind and the Gotland sheep. Pelt wool is of medium staple and it is a woolen yarn with no distinctive creep, but it does have a good lock. These days, they make 3 thicknesses. Above you see him holding onto the pelt wool fleece which is naturally light grey and gives the dyed colours a weathered look on a dark fibre base.

The yarn has a mohair, silky feel with a halo, lustre and bounce. Despite its halo, it has a great stitch definition and depth to it. The pelt yarn also blooms and softens when you block it. These days, they make 3 thicknesses; the DK weight first named Norsk Pelsull/Norwegian Pelt Wool – now called Tinde – the thicker Bulky weight called Blåne and the newer 4 ply/Fingering weight called Sølje launched in May 2016.

We walked from the basement, where the fleece is kept; air is blown into it and it is dyed up to the next floor. Here is a close up photo of one of the old machine from 1890, that is used for carding for felting.

It was utterly fascinating to see all these old machines still in use. They made less noise than you would anticipate.

The spinning process was my favorite to watch. I was so impressed that this worker could spot where the yarn needed splicing and doing it with such speed and ease.

Øyvind’s brother Arild is in charge of developing the colours and the dying. He is also the one that has to fix the machines when the stop. They use two different methods that both give the same result. Here is a close up of the one where the hanks are slowly turned around to ensure even colouring, while the other method keep the hanks static but raises the water platform.

After the hanks have been dyed, they are dried over night, maximum 12 hours to avoid the yarn drying out, upstairs at the loft, the so-called drying loft. Here are skeins of Tinde and Ask.

Here are hanks ready for labelling and their final twist or before they are made into cones.

The machine that transfer the hanks onto cones. I was lucky to meet a number of the 20 employees at the factory and saw them doing their job. The order department was busy working on filling Ysolda’s order (to Scotland) – box number 8 – and a large order to Trollenwolweb (to the Netherlands), as well as numerous other orders both to stores and direct to customers.

After Øyvind had shown me around, I wanted him and Anette to help me make a video of me knitting for the Fruity Knitting Podcast. We talked through where we should record it and choose their beautiful Sense Room, where they hold their knitting café, in the end. Anette was in charge of recording, while Øyvind gave me a signal when there was 10 seconds left so that I could look up and smile. But just like knitters in my workshops do make mistakes just because I am looking at them, so did I when I was filmed. I had to redo those rows on my swatch. Anette also made a second video using her mobile, close up of my fingers, as requested by Andrea, presenter of the Fruity Knitting Podcast. You can see the footage in the Podcast here.

Then we had lunch, Øyvind, Anette, Berit and I, in their conference room and not in their canteen which has a view of the fjord. I told them what I have been working on and so did they. I was also asked if I wanted to make another collection for them and I was delighted to accept. Hence after lunch I wanted to have a closer look at their shop, choose some hanks that had to come home with me for swatching for the seventh collection. I also had a second walk about before my return to Bergen. Above is the entrance to the factory, straight into the shop, with the pelt wool displayed: Sølje on the right, then Blåne and Tinde to the left. This is just a small corner of the shop, that had all their other yarns, yarn kits, knitwear, books, knitting notions, and gifts. Then it was time for me to leave to go back to Bergen, pick up my suitcase and head to the airport. Øyvind took me to the bus stop, since the ferry only runs at rush hour, and gave me instructions where to change buses to make sure I came back into the city center. I made it and also managed to get to the airport in time. I had an amazing day at Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk, thank you Øyvind, Anette, Berit and to everyone I met! If you do have the chance and are visiting Bergen, do not miss it!


Oslo Design Fair August 2018

The summer came to an end and the Oslo Design Fair opened its door on last Wednesday, at Lillestrøm. It is a day to catch up with designer colleagues as well as yarn producers, and this time was no exception. First on the agenda was a visit to the Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk stand to see my latest collection exhibited and look at the new retailer brochure they have made. Above you see me talking to Øyvind Myhr with the sweater Lofn and the dress Sigyn in the background. Both are knitted in the lovely Sølje pelt yarn. Øyvind and Anette did want me to design 4 new designs and I am delighted to do so. Yes, I am wearing my Harding Cardigan, knitted in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, first published in Interweave Knits Summer 2016.

Here is another photo of the mannequins with the yarn kit and brochure at the floor. When Michael and I arrived at the stand, designer Kari Hestnes and co-author Hege Dagestad were there. They have recently written the book: Garnmagi med Plantefarging (Yarn magic with plant based dying), recently launched by Cappelen Damm. Kari to the left, next to Berit Løkken and Anette Toft both from Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk and Hege.

I also met up with Thomas Kvist of House of Hobbies. He is now the agent for Lana Gatto and the American Distributor Knitting Fever. Designers Iselin Hafseld and Tove Fevang, as well as Dagfinn Sigridson Skoglund –  Works Manager at Oslo National Academy of the Arts – were also there and I had coffee breaks with them all. It is such an amazing and inspiring day!

There was no fashion show but House of Yarn did have a video of their fashion show running on their large stand. There were plenty of new yarns to look at and fondle. As you can see I was way to busy to take photographs so I am lucky that Michael did.

Finally I wanted to show you one of the photos Michael took of the Japanese inspired coffee shop in hall C named Scandinavian Design & Lifestyle. The Coffee shop is designed by Anderssen & Voll, with furniture from Japanese Ariake and food from Happolati. In addition I took one photo of the glass gate (read: the floor to ceiling glass wall is on the left hand side), where new exhibitors were presented on one side and exhibitions between the food outlets on the opposite side. For the first time at Oslo Design Fair, Hall C will be open to the public, today Saturday 1. September. So if you are tempted and nearby, this is your chance. You can find more information on the website: Oslo Design Fair.


Oslo Design Fair – January 2018

What happened to January? I had so many plans but did not get very far at all. Anyway, I did make it to the first day of the Oslo Design Fair at Lillestrøm on Wednesday 24th of January. I was looking forward to seeing my new designs in collaboration with Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk on display at their stand together with large posters of Emma Ross photographed by Eivind Røhne at Bøler Kirke/Church in Oslo last October. Michael came with me and took these photographs. Above you can see the Cahal knitted in Olive green Tinde Pelsull, Ardra knitted in Cognac Sølje Pelsull and Barra knitted in Brown Sølje Pelsull. On the floor are the yarn kits, and in the two boxes closest to Ardra are the Tinde Pelsull while the new lambswool yarn Sol is in the next two boxes.

Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk had printed a brochure for retailers and I saw it for the first time, fresh from the printers in the photo above. Here I am talking to Øyvind Myhr since both Berit and Anette were busy taking orders. On the wall to the right is Donia. The sample is on display at the front of the stand. I am wearing my design Kathe Cardigan knitted in SweetGeorgia Superwash Sport, made for Interweave Knits Fall 2016. Yarn kit with Norwegian patterns and printed patterns will soon go on sale in selected yarn stores in Norway and online at Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. Digital patterns will be available after test knitting in my Ravelry group in both Norwegian and English during the spring.

I met up with several designers during the day to my delight. Here is Creative Director at House of Yarn, Margaretha Finseth (yes, the editor of the Norwegian Knitting Designs book) telling Tove Fevang and me about the new yarns from Du Store Alpakka. As you can see from these photos there was plenty of space at this trade fair on the first day.

The fair also showcases jewellery, clothing, interiors and decorations in addition to yarn. Kaja Gjedebo had a stand again this time and I had to visit. Kaja is presenting the news to designer Bente Presterud Røvik who joined Tove and me. Thankfully, Kaja had made a new brochure so that we could easily make our wish-lists. In between visiting the stands, I had several coffee breaks and enjoyed catching up with designer Iselin Hafseld and handcraft editor at Familien Åse Myhrvold Egeland. I had a great day and received more design commissions so I will stay busy.