Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Norway Knitting Industry Museum ~ Norsk Trikotasjemuseum

In researching our trip to Norway I was super excited to see that there was a museum devoted to the knitting industry just outside of Bergen - a town already on our list because of the Fjord tours.  This museum preserves a knitting factory that was established in the 1850s and closed in the late 1980s - all the garments made in the factory were made by machine.  In particular, the factory was famous for making long underwear for Norway's winters.

It was very easy to get there by public transportation since we didn't want the expense or responsibility of renting a car or trying to get a cab.  The website is very helpful for visitors, including good directions on how to get to Salhus by bus. (The bus drivers do speak English, but they may not know about the museum itself - at least in English anyway. Just take the bus into Salhus, then walk away from the stop and around the few shops on the corner. Around the bend and up a hill will be the museum - we followed a bunch of school children.)

I highly recommend watching the 30 minute film before taking the tour. It is all in Norwegian, but has good English subtitles. It covers the history of the factory and includes interviews with some of the former workers.  Then you will be whisked away on the tour (also available in English) that follows the production line of the factory work.

I am only going to post my favorite pictures here - I took A LOT of photographs.  P and I happened to be touring the factory at the same time as a French woman (obviously a knitter) and her husband. I wonder if she has a blog - we took a lot of the same photographs.

Gears for a machine carder creating cakes of unspun fiber

Spinning fiber cakes into single plies on spindles

Loading spindles onto cones

Plying a single into a triple ply

Three yarns enter...

... one yarn leaves

Machine knitting flat - looks like an albino Dr Who scarf

Circular machine knitting - the fabric grows down and pools in the tubs below.

Tiny circular knitting machine to make edgings for collars

Our tour guide and the sock knitting machine.  Socks are made connected to one another.  The blue threads mark where a toe can be serged together, the white thread will dissolve in water.

Bucket o' socks
The program to run the plain ribbed socks
The museum converted an unused portion of the factory into a exhibition space for textile artists. The current exhibit was for some art students at the university in Bergen.  My favorite was by Emma De Kimpe, entitled "De Morgen, donderdag 2 februari 2012" and was machine woven.

Obviously she was working from a newspaper, but I also love how the actual physical requirements of weaving (a long warp) also mirror the printing process and assemblage of newspapers. My photos show details of the same area, so you can see just how abstract the weaving becomes when you look at the piece closely.

The tour then ended in the gift shop, and there are lots of wonderful things you can find there.  There are finished knits you can buy, such as the pillows and scarves below. (The red and black pillow at the left is the local "Salhus" pattern that was a handknit pattern before it became a machine knit one.) There were also kits for mitered square pillows using yarn that was made at the factory - (I bought one of these!) for a respectable 140 NOK (about $23). There were also skeins of yarn you could get (I wish I had picked up some of this - especially in light of my next post) for also an extremely reasonable price.

There were books in Norwegian by Annemor Sundbo that I was thinking about purchasing, but since I can buy them for twice as much in English I guess it wasn't that big a deal. Honestly, am I going to learn Norwegian? (Although if anything will get me to learn a language it will be knitting.) So, yes, Annemor Sundbo books are now on the top of my wish list.

This was a great half-day trip!  P really enjoyed himself (as, I believe, did the husband of the other knitter on the tour) and asked a lot of questions. I hope this museum sees a lot of visitors coming - and I hope this blog post will encourage you to go if you are headed to the Bergen area.


  1. Thanks for the tour! N & I hope to go to Norway some day, and this will be on my must see list!

  2. We really just missed each other by a couple of days! I stayed a night in Bergen and saw in the guide a description for Salhus's knitting museum and had to investigate it the next day. We arrived with only an hour before closing, but the staff was awesome and the tour was very well done. My boyfriend definitely enjoyed it more than I expected. And, yes I couldn't leave without buying some yarn and one of their children's Salhus sweater patterns, which is of course in Norwegian! >_<

  3. (oops! i just tried to comment but it didn't work!)

    We just missed each other by a few days! I also stopped in the Knitwear Museum (after leaving Bergen) and spent a lovely hour chatting with the museum staff while we toured the old factory. My boyfriend also really enjoyed the tour. And since I didn't find any yarn shops in Bergen (I completely missed that there was a downstairs to Nilssen's), I couldn't leave without buying some yarn and even a Salhus Child's sweater pattern (never mind that it is in Norwegian!) :D