Poems of Colour: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition

Suzie Blackman
Sunday, 19 February 2012

Poems of Colour: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition

I’ve had my eye on this book by Wendy Keele since discovering Bohus sweaters on the Bohusläns Museum website. I don’t remember how I came across it but was particularly taken with ‘Grey mist’ and ‘red palm’ sweaters and the subtle colour-work transitions. Now that I’ve got the book, I can reveal that the secret of these is in the inclusion of strategically placed purl stitches which not only add texture but enhance the shimmering fade effect.

Bohus knitting is a Swedish initiative, founded in the late 1930s at the height of the depression in order to encourage home crafts. By the 1950s it developed into a successful industry and Bohus knitwear was luxuary fashion.

Poems of Colour: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition is not just a pattern book, it’s also an illustrated history of the designs and the designers.

The designs are not for the faint-hearted. Written for 2ply / lace yarns on tiny 2.5mm needles with up to 16 colours per design, even the smaller projects in the book are challenging.

However, they are stunning, and using the clearly illustrated charts, a knitter with a little colour-work experience can incorporate Bohus designs into any project. Apart from the yoke sweaters, the garments are boxy and unflattering, but patterns are given for hats and gloves in many of the designs.

The ‘Wild Apple’ design

The ‘Red Palm’ design

Although the chances of me completing a 2ply sweater in my lifetime are slim, I still feel that this book is an essential addition to my library.

Keen to try out some of the charts, I ordered some cheap Wendy Merino Bliss DK from Kemps, and I’ve knitted up a swatch from the ‘Red Palm’ chart.

‘Red Palm’ swatch in DK merino

It doesn’t quite have the subtlety of the original but its very striking. It turns out to be very hard to find yarn in 8 shades of pink! It has the potential for a stunning hat/scarf/gloves set.


The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

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