Knit and purl are the new weapons

Art, handicraft, time and sustainability form a synthesis when Marianne Nørbo goes on the defensive for knitting

Her initial tweets indicated that knitting needles are her favourite weapon. But, the textile designer Marianne Nørbo declares, that should not be perceived as an aggressive statement. "... it depends in whose hands it is," she elaborates:
"By working in the field of leisure, I give consumers the power to create things themselves. Our consumption is escalating at a hysterical pace, and one of the ways we can slow down is through good craftsmanship, being able to make things ourselves, repair, alter, even if it is not perfect. We must reclaim the leisure pursuits, because there is an inherent aspiration in recognizing that we can do some things ourselves," she says about her virtually manifest-like grip on her knitting.

Two types of knitting, one thought
Marianne Nørbo has had a two-pronged approach to her final designs, created as part of her graduation project at Design School Kolding. On one hand she has created three 'totally uncompromising' knitting designs, where she really went to town in terms of technique, materials and cut:
"In that segment, nothing has been spared. It's wild, it's artistic and the aim is to create enthusiasm for the good craftsmanship. But it’s selfish only to create something for your own sake. I have observed that people who are knitting constantly want to educate themselves. Hence I have wanted to push people's perception of what they can do," she says, switching to the second part of the project: A line of knit-it-yourself kits developed in collaboration with the Danish handicraft brand Kit Couture, where the handicraft has been converted into a slightly more accessible and democratic format.
"In this segment the challenge has clearly been on the technical level," the designer explains:
"It has obviously been developed for knitters who dare to do something more – but at the same time it should not be so difficult that people won’t have a good experience."

Embarrassing skills
And the experience, the pleasure, the joy is an essential part of the value that the knitting project aims to convey. The designer herself learned to knit, sew and embroider from her mother, but she also remembers that in her childhood those were somewhat embarrassing skills to possess, because such leisure pursuits are often closely linked to traditional gender roles. These prejudices must now be skewered by a pointed knitting needle:
"I try to combine my enthusiasm for colours and materials with good craftsmanship. Leisure time is a luxury in modern everyday life. Therefore, the modern consumer is searching for a more unhurried everyday lifestyle, where togetherness and presence are essential aspects. The emotional value that is engendered when you yourself create a high-quality product has an inherent sustainability because it automatically becomes a piece of clothing that you cherish and take care of and hence it will have a long life. In order to strike the right balance in that exercise, I have been aware of the knitters’ wishes and otherwise used art as a driving force. So hopefully I have ended up with a line of products that will be produced at a pace that takes both the environment and people into account."