Finlayson The windows of the workspace located in the historic factory area offer a view of Tammerkoski. Large windows let in light in a Scandinavian minimalistly decorated room with Sini Kramer and Jonna Hietala spend their days surrounded by woolen bearings.
This is where the knit fashion magazine Laine is made, which has been very successful in unexpected ways. Amid the fiery digitalisation of the media, Hietala and Kramer established print media focused on knitting, which was aimed directly at the international market.
It was not until December 2020 that Laine also appeared in Finnish for the first time.
The very first Laine magazine was published in December 2016, and its edition of a few thousand copies sold out in half an hour. With the publication of the next issue, it began to appear that Hietala and Kramer dared to leave their day jobs, Kramer worked as a psychologist and editor-in-chief of Hietala Taito magazine for a long time.
Today, the magazine is printed in about 20,000 copies and sold at 900 retail outlets around the world, most of which are yarn stores. Laine has grown into the largest indie magazine in the knitting world, with no large magazine behind it.
Hietalasta has become a knitting frenzy face, or rather hands. The hands tattooed with roses sometimes appear in Laine media soma images. The magazine’s Instagram account has 107,000 followers.
According to Hietala, “craze” is not an exaggerated word when it comes to knitting.
Although Finland, Norway and Iceland are the most knitting countries in the world in terms of population, most of the magazine’s edition is sold elsewhere: in the United States and Europe, but also in Japan and South Korea. Where crafts used to be a necessity, now they are a hobby for middle-class people that costs a lot of money.
“In Finland, few people understand how big an international phenomenon it is. It may be because crafts have been part of life here since childhood. Technology has only frozen in the 1950s, and passionate enthusiasts with new ways of doing things can be found in other countries. ”
Laine does not recall the handicraft magazines that are used to being seen in textile work classes and grandmothers. Rather, a fashion catalog comes to mind, where top models wander as cool essentials in Nordic natural landscapes, thick wool scarves around their necks but legs bare. The content consists of a few writings and interviews, but mostly it includes photos, knitting patterns and recipes.
It is visuality that sets Lainen apart from other craft magazines.
“We have a clearly simple and unisex line that reflects our own visual preferences. There are a lot of knit designers in Finland who make skilled and technically challenging knits, but nothing that draws from the catwalks. You don’t rely on simplicity in knitting, which is exciting when you think about other Finnish designs, ”Hietala reflects.
Women want to be trendsetters in what knitting can look like.
“Easy-to-approach fashion knitting is a really big deal in Norway and Denmark, for example: there, famous knitting designers make very simple but fashionable knitting instructions, which are distributed in dozens of Finnish channels. You don’t have to have any hc needles to get excited about them, ”says Kramer.
The latest The articles in the Laine issue dream of trips to Paris and London after the corona pandemic, and it turns out that New York is a “place to be” for many knitters as well.
They marvel at the vacuum pierced by the corona into our hectic time and tell Bipoc in fiber website founder who wants to make colored people and indigenous peoples more visible in the handicraft catalog. There is also talk of a farm in Jutland, Denmark, where “handicraft traditions meet modern design”. It also turns out that knitting is “yoga for the brain”.
Everything shines hygge – Far from the evil, or at least urban, world. Scandinavian minimalism and wool exude good livelihood and taste. However, Kramer and Hietala deny that the magazine is elitist.
“The experience of knitting is equally important for everyone, regardless of income category. Sometimes the instructions use really cheap yarns, and sometimes luxury yarns, which in turn supports a sole proprietor who dyes them in small batches in his pot. I myself just knitted a four-euro beanie. Not long ago, I knitted a 90-euro beanie. Knitting can be done on a wide range of budgets, ”says Hietala.
Originally friends of Hietala and Kramer appeared as models for the magazine. It therefore came as a surprise to the authors that in international knitting circles, the whiteness of the patterns was not swallowed without a mug.
In the latest issue, none of the models are “white” – if understood only as skin color.
“When we became aware that people longed for diversity in their images, we changed direction. Since then, we have worked hard on this. I feel that as an international publication, we are responsible to the entire knitting world for being able to provide something that everyone can identify with, ”Hietala says.
Kramer adds that it’s not just about the visuals, it’s also about who designs the designs, who writes the stuff, and whose yarns are used in the designs.
“It has become clear that the knitting audience is hugely alert and critical. It has its roots in the political situation in the United States, for example. But of course, women all over the West have woken up to how the white heterosexual has defined world norms, ”says Hietala.
What has then made Westerners excited about knitting now that knitwear is probably available in stores cheaper than ever?
The popularity is based on the same phenomenon, which is why Hietala also changed his career in the media industry first to the yarn trade, and then to Laine: burnout in information work. Concrete craftsmanship is the antidote to the brain exhausted by digital electricity.
The culture of knitting represents the slow life, soft values, and naturalness that have made its entry into hard capitalism and the hardening demands of working life among those who have been bored for at least a decade.
Of course, the coronavirus has also contributed to the popularity of knitting. Still, Hietala does not believe that the steadily intensified knitting trend in the 21st century would be a transient phenomenon.
“Knitting promotes not only sustainable development, but also mental health. Its effects on mental well-being are scientifically proven, ”says himself openly reported his mental health problems Hietala.
Hietala has experienced multiple burnouts and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Crafts professor Sinikka Pöllänen The University of Eastern Finland confirms the welfare effects of knitting. Research on the importance of handicrafts has recently highlighted well-being-related factors that explain its growing popularity.
Handicraft is a Finnish discipline that is hardly known anywhere else in the world.
In his research, Pöllänen has noticed that knitting is a kind of life management method for many. The knitting boom is reminiscent of the Western yoga boom – in addition to physical exercise, yoga also seeks peace of mind and serenity.
“The relaxing effects of knitting even work by making people tease themselves during the work day, thinking that as soon as I get through this, I’ll get home to knit again.”
Knitting has been found to lower heart rate. It calms and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
“At least as long as there are no mistakes,” Pöllänen laughs.
It also cures some kind of longing for meaning.
“However, we are primates who need to touch and do things by hand.”
According to Pöllänen, what is special about knitting is that it enables the processing of one’s own feelings and thoughts in handicrafts.
“For example, those suffering from chronic pain can congregate in knitting circles. The experience of pain can be relieved when you focus your thoughts on the loops. ”
Added to this is the sense of accomplishment and community that many long for. Pöllänen says that the crochet and knitting movement is related to homemaking, ecofeminism and the so-called ”Nanna-style ”trend: longs for a new kind of “grandmotherhood” involving conscious consumption, a calmer lifestyle and a do-it-yourself culture.
“Enthusiastic enthusiasts even talk knitted or crocheted and knitivism, which refers to activism against the hectic lifestyle, ”says Pöllänen.
Why knitting is then still such a gendered chore? In their absence, the men also shine in the catalog of Laine magazine. However, the whole thing has its origins in weaving the net of fishermen. Until 500 years ago, knitting was a man’s job.
Pöllänen believes that one of the reasons for this in Finland is that handicrafts have been gendered as a subject in schools.
“Nowadays, boys also knit at school, but it takes time for it to start to appear more widely in culture.”
All this: communality, stagnation and a feminist counterculture combine when Lainen readers gather for knitting retreats in, say, a small northern Italian hotel. There, as the wands roar, wine and sometimes even tears flow.
Sometimes Hietala finds a bunch of business people flashing a knitting crowd in the hotel lobby, grinning, and then she would be happy to ask: How much is your company’s turnover?
“If you don’t come across a girl right now, then at least to the attitude that‘ those women knit there ’. Lainen’s success shows that there is room in the market here. ”
Although the media is starting to be very profitable financially, Hietala still considers solidarity between women to be her guiding star.
“I come from a family of demarios and workers. No matter how successful I am as an entrepreneur, I don’t give up on the idea that sharing the good is most important. We are driven by a humanitarian need to teach people something nice and make life easier, ”he explains.
Kramer and Hietala originally met in 2012 in a knitting circle organized by Hietala. It was then that they barely imagined that after five years they would support themselves by making their own publication.
Since then, they have been able to expand their two-woman delivery to a team that already employs seven people. Among other things, the payroll includes a technical editor who checks that the number of loops in the knitting instructions match. In addition, Laine pays the salaries of several assistants.
Now, they dare not guess where Laine will be in five years, but the direction is clear.
“My goal is for us to become the Gestalten of handicraft literature: that alongside the publication of the magazine, we will grow into the world’s largest publisher of handicraft books and still be able to maintain our own view of visuality,” Hietala envisions.