By Marilyn J. Huset
The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum’s textile tour’s second day inspired our imaginations from the get go. Danish knitwear designer and creator Geske Svensson welcomed us to her studio and home on June 15th to show us her creations and describe her creative process. Svensson finds inspiration for her unique creations in historic garments and has a collection of books that she goes to for ideas. She then translates her design into fabric with her computer-aided Brother knitting machine. Pieces cut from the fabric are joined together using a crochet machine.
The vibrantly red-haired Svensson modeled a number of her jackets for us. She loves stripes and black and white, as we could see from the collection. She strives to create flattering shapes in her garments that are made of merino wool. In addition to the jackets, she also creates one-of-a-kind garments for exhibitions, again inspired by historic garments. We viewed the piece she calls “Femme Fatale” (see photo above) that was conceived for a 2004 exhibition. The collar of its tan sleeveless jacket was inspired by the style of Queen Elizabeth I and is held up by strips of nitrile cord that are also part of the design elements. The black skirt is knitted in an open stitch. Both are made of linen yarn.
Svensson’s creations are sold at the museum shop at the National Museum of Denmark, shops in Denmark and Canada, and at the museum shop of the British Museum in London. She doesn’t produce new designs each year, but still produces previously designed jackets.Svensson lives and works in an historic building. The Harboe Home for widowed women was built in 1754-60 in Copenhagen with funds willed by Privy Councillor Christine Harboe. The childless Harboe was touched by the plight of upper class women who were left in dire straits when their husbands died and they, by the law of the time, could not inherit property. Today the building offers apartments to women over age 45 for a reasonable rent.
She met with us in a conference room available to residents and then took us into her living space to show us her studio. A bright and sunny space, the studio contained shelves stocked with yarns and was dominated by her knitting and crochet machines.To learn more about Geske Svensson and her designs, visit her website. Perhaps her creations will inspire you as they did the Vesterheim group.
Marilyn Huset is the treasurer of the Center for Knit and Crochet, an online museum created to preserve and promote the art, craft, and scholarship of knitting, crochet, and related arts.