Norway for knitters: Embark on a knitting holiday in Romsdal
Norwegian American Weekly
Are you the kind of traveler who always packs your latest knitting project but ends up disappointed when your busy itinerary leaves little time for any progress? You’re not alone.
Norwegian knitting enthusiast Torill Bakke felt the same way until she embarked on a knitting tour to Tuscany in the fall of 2014. Inspired by the concept of a vacation devoted to knitting, Bakke began arranging programs in the district of Romsdal specifically designed for knitters to embrace Norwegian nature and the art of knitting.
With its extreme natural beauty and crucial role in the yarn production industry, Bakke believes the town of Åndalsnes in Romsdal is the prime destination for the strikkeferie (knitting holiday). And as the marketing coordinator for Rauma Ullvarefabrikk—Norway’s leading yarn producer—for over a decade, Bakke has close ties to this industry.
“Strikkeferie was a word that certainly did not exist in my vocabulary before I joined the ‘Knitting in Tuscany’ program, that the American Susan Wollcot organized,” said Bakke in an interview with VG. “There are so many who knit, and many would like to learn more, new techniques, discuss knitting with their peers, and get a better understanding of yarn and wool,” she continued.
The knitters attend workshops in Skolestua, a schoolhouse built on Bakke Farm in 1827. The building was used for education until 1948, when many of the pupils emigrated to the U.S. In 2010, the schoolhouse was restored into a cozy spot for knitters to lounge by the fire while viewing the spectacular mountains out the window.
Participants are also invited to celebrate the unique location by visiting a working sheep farm, experiencing the production of authentic Norwegian wool, and seeking yarn and inspiration at Rauma Ullvarefabrikk. Other local attractions include meeting the creative women behind Hau’n Håndlaga who use traditional techniques to make contemporary products, wine tasting at the Tuen vineyard, eating lunch at the cozy Sødahlhuset café, and exploring the Rosvang Farm Hotel. Depending on the weather and individual preferences, the program may also include hiking, yoga, and more.
After a full day, the knitters return to their accommodations at Hotel Aak—a historic tourist hotel dating back to the 19th century with a history of hosting adventurous mountaineers—for dinner, relaxation, and of course a bit more knitting.
The programs vary from a long weekend to a full week and are scheduled for the region’s slow tourist seasons, late fall and early spring.
To get the most out of the region’s beauty, it is recommended to travel to your strikkeferie via the Rauma Railway, which is argued to be one of Norway’s most beautiful and extraordinary railways. The railway has connecting trains from Oslo and Trondheim and takes you through Romsdalen; you’ll see well-known attractions such as Trollveggen, the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, and Kylling Bru, the picturesque bridge crossing the Rauma River. Take the train to the final stop in Åndalsnes, and the program will arrange transport from the station to the hotel. Alternatively, you can fly to Molde or Ålesund and then take the bus to Åndalsnes, or drive from your starting point, which takes about six hours from Oslo and two hours from Ålesund.
Bakke has no doubt that the program has the potential to attract knitters near and far. In fact, an American was the first person to register for the debut strikkeferie held in late winter 2015. This event was an undeniable success, and the participants even had the opportunity to meet knitting gurus Arne & Carlos.
“There is a large interest for knitting both in Norway and internationally. Arne & Carlos have 170,000 followers on Facebook. On the knitting community Ravelry there are four million. Therefore I see four million opportunities,” said Bakke to a local newspaper, RB Nett.
To further encourage international participation, Bakke is collaborating with Wollcot of Trips for Knitters to plan programs specifically for knitters from the U.S. The next trip will be held in May 2016 and will focus on using two-color Norwegian knitting to make traditional mittens.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.