Sunday, 10 January 2016

Koselig

I belong to a local knitting group in Portsmouth which meets every Tuesday to knit, crochet, chat, drink copious amounts of tea and eat cake.  The cafe that hosts our weekly session is run by an extremely talented street artist and all round good chap who makes everyone feel welcome with his witty banter and generally laid back nature.  As we sit round a group of tables that have been pulled together, we can look out on the bleak winter-world outside through large glazed doors and revel in the warmth of our cosy little gathering.  This is what the Norwegians would call, Koselig.  There is no direct or fully accurate translation into English, but the nearest you'll find is the word 'cosy' or 'cozy' (US Eng). The meaning of Koselig goes beyond temperature and surroundings, it has a more esoteric sense which is about feelings and how there is comfort to be had in simple pleasures and friendships. This concept of Koselig is important to Norwegians, as it is to all the other Scandinavian countries (Hyggelig in Danish) because they have long, cold winters and the notion of hunkering down against the elements  has become a comfort rather than a chore.  It isn't just about surviving the winter though, Koselig carries on throughout the year in other elements of Norwegian life and culture.

This cosiness, it might be argued, can be seen in much of their arts and crafts.  Traditional motifs and patterns litter Norwegian textile history bringing with them a sense of continuity, quaintness and charm that many have tried to copy.  It is a design aesthetic that, whilst similar to the Scots Fairisle or Faroese designs, has more of an openness in it's design and often uses figurative and even narrative motifs.



One of the members of my knitting group is Norwegian and she introduced us to this idea of Koselig, proudly trying to explain its meaning but careful to emphasise that it was, to an extent, intangible. Whilst I can't fully appreciate what it must be like to live in darkness for several months of the year and be head deep in snow outside, I can understand the desire to knit and create comforting clothing.  It was with pleasure then that I came across this classic book of Norwegian knitting designs by Annichen Sibbern Bohn.  This book has been republished and can be bought from the Knitpicks website along with other Scandinavian knitting design books.


I challenge any knitter not to be charmed by these designs and want to give them a go.

1 comment:

  1. Yes beautiful and stranded colour work is easy to learn

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