As you might remember, a major highlight of 2014 for me was visiting Sweden, doing some research on Bohus knitting, and meeting Kerstin Olsson. When I visited Kerstin in her studio, she was kind enough to show me some of her own collection of objects and swatches relating to her time at Bohus Stickning. Among these was a sample for a design of hers called Gotiska Fönstret (Gothic Windows).
This yoke had, Kerstin told me, been cut from a rejected sample which came out too large to be used – a good way of preserving the patterns when they didn’t work out for the Bohus knitters. Kerstin had been inspired to create this beautiful pattern after visiting Venice, and admiring the design and architecture of the Doges Palace.
Among the many beautiful things that Kerstin showed me that day, this particular yoke and its inspiration really blew me away, and stuck in my mind. A few days later, I visited the Bohuslan Museum, where they were selling small number of the kits that Solveig Gustafsson reworked from the original Bohus patterns, now recreated by Pernille of Angoragarnet. As luck would have it, Gotiska Fönstret was among them, and I eagerly snapped it up. Earlier this Summer, I finally found the time to begin knitting it while on holiday in Portugal.
Like the majority of Bohus yokes, this one is written to be worked top down. After a couple of false starts with too-tight and too-loose ribbing, I finally decided on a provisional cast on (which I finished off with i-cord later). The yoke took me 10 days of leisurely knitting, sitting in the sun, and taking my time. It was tremendously enjoyable work.
When one designs things, one becomes a bit obsessed with lining things up . The motifs on this yoke, like many other Bohus designs do not have a neat vertical symmetry – but because the motifs are so wee and the design so involved it simply doesn’t matter. The visual effect of the finished yoke is just stunning – and really made me want to experiment with using lots of teeny tiny motifs, and not worrying so much about symmetry.
When I’d knit the yoke, everything about it blew me away – from the subtle and careful combination of chocolate browns and icy blues to the way the purl stitches define the pattern and lend it textural interest. The yarn was also lovely to work with. I felt when I was making it that creating this yoke seemed a little more than knitting – something like embroidery, and something like painting too. Like many of Kerstin’s designs, this one is full of true artistry and genius!
I made good headway with the rest of the sweater while I was on holiday, but when I came home other things got in its way. I had to design and knit a wedding cardigan and a pair of kilt hose, and then my knitting time became absorbed in designing and making other samples with my lovely new wool.
Finally last week I was able to finish my beautiful Gotiska Fönstret. I am really, really happy to have finally knit a Bohus yoke – and the fact that it is this particular design of Kerstin’s makes it very special to me indeed!
The instructions I received with my kit were in Swedish, and were pretty straightforward for me to follow (with just my wee modicum of Swedish) though I do understand there’s an English translation available with the kits bought directly from Pernille. Sometimes it is very nice to relax and knit something the way someone else has designed it, and perhaps particularly when that someone else is your ultimate knitting hero!
Finishing Kerstin’s beautiful design has, once again, fired up my admiration and enthusiasm for her work and for Bohus knitting, and I’m very much looking forward to reading Viveka Overland’s new book, Bohus Sticking: the Revival (ISBN 978-91-7686-268-1) my copy of which is on its way.