Finland’s centenary year caused a knitting fever
As Finland is a cold country, you need warm clothing in winter – and sometimes even in summer. Traditionally, grandmas and aunts have been busy knitting woollen socks for Christmas presents, but the approaching centenary year has inspired a large number of others to grab some knitting needles as well.
To describe the importance of knitting to the Finnish people, a new word neulosis has been coined (from the Finnish verb ‘neuloa’ meaning to knit). Neulosis means an obsessive urge to knit, a condition that is affecting a growing number of people in Finland. Some knit all the year round while others get an attack of neulosis when evenings drawn in in the autumn. While knitting is basically an individual pursuit, the centenary year has inspired people to knit together and for the delight of others. Even Pekka Timonen, General Secretary to the Centenary Board, has promised to learn to knit a leg for a sock.
Inspired by babies and grandpas
As of today, there are over twenty knitting projects in the centenary year programme. Many of the ideas have been put forward by enthusiastic private individuals, like the project to knit woollen socks for all those born in 1917 and 2017.
Tanja Kanninen, the woman who came up with the idea of Woollen socks for everyone born in the centenary year, was inspired by the socks donated to her firstborn in connection with the 400th anniversary celebration of the City of Oulu. “To my surprise, nobody had yet launched a baby sock collection for the centenary year, so I decided to do so myself,” she says.
Knitting needles are also swinging in other parts of Oulu. Jaana Willman, the founder of the Woollen socks for veterans project, wants to honour the war veterans. The socks knitted are specifically designed for the centenary year in terms of pattern and colour.
In the Kainuu region, there is a project to knit bed covers for all babies born in 2017. In a library project called Novella Knit, the knitters listen to short stories while knitting. Originally launched by the Library of Kuhmo, the project has spread to other libraries in Kainuu.
“The money for the wool was provided by the Kainuu Social and Healthcare Services. Covers are being knitted not only in libraries but also in homes,” says project leader Taina Hyvönen, Director of Kuhmo Library Services.
Warmth, work and recreation with knitwear
In Tampere, people have knitted over 900 pairs of socks from baby socks to big socks to be worn with boots in places like Mummon Kammari, a centre for voluntary elderly care, local hotels and in homes. Mummon Kammari volunteers have knitted socks and, when necessary, taught hotel guests how to do the heel.
“There’s no limit to people’s creativity. Some socks are real works of art. On the side, we’ve received fine by-products like miniature hats, felted sheep, decorations, and of course mittens and woollen hats. All blue and white, of course” says Maarit Tammisto, Executive Manager of Mummon Kammari.
Currently people are working on a giant muffler which will be put together from several pieces and hung on display to delight local residents.
“We’ve taken our knitting to senior care homes, knitting societies and the meetings of the Rotaries. Many older men have tried to refresh the skills they have learnt in primary school and managed to produce a stitch or two,” Tammisto says.
Aside from warmth, the voluntary efforts have produced many other good things. At the beginning of the centennial year, the volunteers will visit the old people born in 1917 or earlier and put socks on them. Any extra products will be sold in a sale and the proceeds used for hiring young people to take old people outdoors.