Tonight marked the end of the opening weekend for the Bohus exhibit at the American Swedish Institute, at least for me. Susanna Hansson will be teaching one more workshop tomorrow, but I have to go back to work. Everyone concerned seems to think it was a big, big success. I agree without reserve.
Though we had to respect museum prohibitions on photography in the galleries, we were invited today to take pictures of each other in the lecture halls. I jumped on this opportunity. Here is an array of Bohus royalty, all photographed with the court jester and putting up with it very nicely. (Those Swedes are wonderfully polite!)
First we have Solveig Gustafson, the woman who has made it possible for today’s knitters to live the dream of recreating a very accurate reproduction of the original sweaters. She is a one woman show, carefully reproducing the exact colors of yarn and writing the patterns for the sweaters. You can order her kits at her website, SOLsilke. A limited number of designs are also available from the ASI.
Here is Kerstin Olsson, designer of so many lovely sweaters including The Egg and all of its cousins (New Azalea, Green Myrtle, and others). She is as lovely as her sweaters, always with a smile on her face and very friendly. She made my night when she complimented me on the hair clip I had made using the Blue Shimmer pattern.
Kjell Andersson produced the film, “Bohus Knitting – From Relief Work to World Success”. I posted about the film yesterday. I can confirm today that the film is available from the ASI gift shop or directly from Kjell himself. You can also read about his studio at the same link. I am sure he would appreciate your contact with comments on the film. He didn’t mind when I told him it made me cry!
Mary Jo Burke of Stagecoach Yarns gave a wonderful presentation on how Bohus knitting energy started to build in the United States, taking us through early magazine articles (check out Knitting Letters: A to Z for a comprehensive bibliography of same) and the collaboration that brought forth the book, Poems of Color, as well as yarn for American knitters. I especially enjoyed her chemist’s approach to reproducible dye solutions, working with concentrated solutions rather than measuring solid dyes for each batch. It was also fascinating to hear how the dyes are all like unique animals (she called them pets) with different personalities. Some, she said, were unfaithful to her, changing overnight, so she would divorce herself from them. She didn’t put up with one night stands, she said, to a houseful of laughter.
On a more sober note, she related how the likely pollution of a planned mega-dairy within a mile of her house will ruin the quality of her water and of the air. She is putting all of her energy into working with the community group fighting this megalith that threatens her town and her livelihood, and sadly, told us that this meant closing out her fiber efforts now. History repeats itself – it was water pollution that closed the mill that produced the angora yarn for the original sweaters.
Somehow I failed to get a photo of Susanna Hansson at this event. Funny, because she is why I got into all of this in the first place. I blogged before about her wonderful workshop which I took last April. Here is a reprise photo from that time. It was so wonderful to reconnect with her. What an example of what one person can accomplish. It is through her consistent efforts to bring Bohus knitting to American knitters, collecting sweaters, teaching classes, making connections, that we are seeing a resurgence in interest in the subject. Heck, I bought my copy of Poems of Color at Half-Price Books for about $6 a few years back. Just last year, before it finally got reprinted, it was going for crazy high prices on e-bay, if you could even find a copy. I attribute that growth in interest to Susanna.
Here are a few gratuitous Bohus shots for you. Yes, Susan did wear her Swan, just as predicted. And Lynette showed off another gorgeous sweater, this one the Rose Collar, if I recall correctly. I hope you all noted the green mist on Solveig in the early shot.
It was so special to be part of this exhibit. Just being here, hearing the stories, seeing knitters connect in such a passionate way was more than reward enough for the small effort I made to help with the knit out and organizing the after event dinner last night. I couldn’t believe it when Solveig actually presented me with a skein of her silk yarn as a thank you. Such a gracious woman, and I will so treasure the yarn. She suggested it become a scarf, and that is certainly what it will be. Maybe birch leaves, which remind me of Sweden.
Finally, I was invited to attend a dinner for those involved with the exhibit. It suddenly hit me – in a tiny way, I am now part of Bohus history. Goosebump moment. Indeed, everyone who attended or the exhibit this weekend or will attend during its run is a part of the history, too.
All of us can play a part in the future of Bohus knitting. The curator of the Bohus exhibit announced that the ASI would sponsor a special Bohus award for the MN state fair this year, so there’s a start (would it be possible to capture the texture of a Bohus sweater in a butter sculpture?). Even if you don’t live in MN, how about trying a Bohus project and entering it in your state fair? Wristers are achievable for most any knitter. Wouldn’t it be fun to suddenly have this appearance of Bohus all around the country? And if you are within striking distance of Minneapolis before March 29, you’ve got to see the exhibit. Who knows when the next time so many of these garments will be in one place again?
For now, the future of Bohus knitting for me is in my dreams.