New Yarn: Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk, Norsk Pelsullgarn

If you like colour and the flexibility of a yarn over three weights, then we have something exciting here at Knit with attitude.

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Let us introduce Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk, one of Norway’s longest established wool producers, situated on the west coast of Norway, 35km north of Bergen. Founded in 1898 by Mikkel Myhr and family owned, being run by the same family for four generations. Now run today by his great-grandsons Øyvind and Arild and still operating where the mill was founded. Some of the machines that are being used are over 100 years old.

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They are part of the European Économusée network. A working museum platform where visitors are encouraged to visit and artisans can encourage the promotion and development of traditional crafts, involving local communities and creating new job opportunities.

The factory emphasizes transparency at all stages of the production of their wool, thus maintaining animal welfare and ethics. Their exclusive products are made out of Norwegian wool, and are handcrafted with love to bring further joy to knitters and wool enthusiasts all over the world. The production is of high quality and each product is handmade with passion and commitment.

At Knit with attitude now stock the Norsk Pelsullgarn range, Sølje, Tinde and Blåne, which is spun from fibre from the Norwegian pelssau breed. A norwegian peltwool fibre that is a cross breed between Gotland and the Norwegian heritage breed Spælsau. The wool is a natural grey colour with beautiful curl and shine. This grey fibre is then dyed to produce a great depth of rich colour with the grey running through it. The richness of the colour is this yarn’s great strength and it’s the perfect choice for colour work.

The three weights are: Sølje a 4ply, Tinde a DK and Blåne an Aran.

As the fibre is naturally grey we are also stocking the Norse Lamullgarn – Sol and Vilje. These are natural white Norweigian Lambswool in DK (Sol) and 4ply (Vilje) weights.

Here are some inspirational projects knit with Hillesvåg to wet your appetite.

dalur6_medium2Hulda Hákonardóttir’s Dalur Pullover Knit by Dianna Walla in Blåne.

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Høsthjerte by Aud Bergo knit in Tinde.

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Ardra by Linda Marveng knit in Sølje

Interview with Ann Helen from Garnsurr

Here at Knit With Attitude we are always on the look out for new and exciting companies to work with. Maya was so excited when she met Ann Helen of Garnsurr at the Oslo Knitting Festival in October and heard about their project to help refugee women integrate into Norwegian culture through language courses, gainful employment and social outreach. Garnsurr is the newest yarn in the shop and we are loving all the new fun and exciting colourways.

We were able to ask founder Ann Helen a few questions about why she started the business, and the inspiration and women that keeps it going. You can find the Garnsurr yarns in our webshop.

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Where and how do you source the yarns that you work with?
We buy all our yarn from Chester Wool in the UK and the yarns originate from Peru.

06_nyh_Garnsurr4What does social integration mean, and how have you built your business around it?
Social integration means that we try to help refugees in our area to become a real part of the community. That means in every way – both creative, workwise and social. This also means that we always have to work with the social part of our business, not only the business side. I use quite a lot of my time  helping them handle their personal economy, and other problems they encounter in our society. This comes in addition to the dying job and language training.

How has Garnsurr been received by the wider community in Norway?
We’re quite young in our business life, but have been very well recieved both at Bergen and Oslo Knitting Festivals. The local community is also very supportive,  we get a lot of emails and comments on our project from all over the country. We’re quite overwhelmed by this support.

IMG_20170613_212159_766Can you tell us a about the women that are currently dying with Garnsurr?
We have three women at Garnsurr at the moment working full time. The first one is Akberet, 50 years old from Eritrea. She became a widow earlier this year, and she has five almost grown up children. Three are living in Norway, a daughter in Sweden and a son in Germany. She is the most experienced dyer at Garnsurr at the moment. Second is the single mother Leila, 35 years from Afghanistan. She has four children from 9 to 14 years old. She has a wonderufl devotion for Garnsurr, and her tremendous spirit inspires us all every day. The third lady is called Hawa, 45 years old  from Somalia. She has a real big family, she has given birth to thirteen children, but only eight are alive. She has a special eye for colour, and gives a lot of our colourways a real “african” touch.

Recently we also got another women from Eritrea, who will have language practice with us one or two days a week.

IMG_20170929_105521How do you develop a new colourway with your dyers? Do you start with a specific combination in mind, or is it a happy accident?
The Garn Surr ladies decide most of the colours nowadays. Some days I wish for colours, and they try to make what I dream about. Sometimes we also make “happy accidents” on purpose – just to try out new techniques and ideas that appear in the team. Most of our time goes to turn on the “sold out” signs in our webshop, and make deliveries for our stockists.

2-7What’s currently on your needles?
At the moment, I’m about to finish Cobaltoan hat by Lesley Ann Robinson from Pom Pom magazine 23. The brioche pattern is my first, and I really enjoy it. I’ve sadly made a mistake on one side of the hat, but I close my eyes and forgive myself! I’ve also just finished another hat by Stephen West – Syncopation Adoration which is just waiting for the ends to be woven in. A jacket by Pickles (a very fashionable yarnstore in Oslo which we are collaborating with), “Big Nore” is just waiting for buttons. The very next project on my needles is Comfort fade cardi by Andrea Mowry – I will attend her KAL in December, and all of my earlier projects in November are also parts of our #garnsurrKAL which started the 1st of November and ends on Christmas Eve. As you see – I knit as much as I can!