A bit like the great musicians who wake up with songs flowing out of their dreams, Pia Marlene Øye Amundsen behind the popular brand Guttenogstrikkemor (‘The Boy and the Knitting Mum’) wakes up with fresh knitting patterns streaming out of her mind, and quickly scribbles them down on a piece of paper – or her good old phone.
“I’m part of the Skappel generation,” says Pia. “I started fiddling around with that jumper that everyone was knitting at the time, and I had to get help from my mother-in-law because I was struggling.”
As with a lot of knitters – when Pia had kids, she felt like there was an explosion within her own personal world of knitting. “It was so much more fun to knit for someone else rather than just myself, and it’s so much more manageable to knit for a child,” she explains.
When her son Tobias became a bit older, she felt that there was a lack of patterns for young boys. “So much of it was a bit too cute – there is so much nice knitwear for girls, but I couldn’t quite find anything I liked for boys,” she adds.
Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Pia sat down to draw her very first pattern. “I didn’t have any intention of selling them – I just wanted to make something that I wanted. I had a baby bodysuit from Hummel that I liked the pattern on, so I sat down with that,” she explains.
“I quickly started swearing to myself and getting frustrated – I decided I was never going to do it again,” she laughs. “I’m not good at maths, but all of a sudden it just fell into place, and from then on it just developed. I set up my Instagram account @guttenogstrikkemor in April 2015 as I wanted to become part of the world that I was becoming so inspired by. I was fascinated by the fact that I could simply take photos, inspire others and get inspired – all at the same time.”
A visual mind
As a graphic designer, Pia is very concerned with visuals, and has always had a strong urge to be creative. “When I was on maternity leave, I was missing an outlet for my creativity, and knitting quickly became an amazing vessel for this,” she explains.
She started out by releasing Tobiasgenseren (‘The Tobias Jumper’ – named after her son), and after that followed Olavgenseren (‘The Olav Jumper’) and Noragenseren (‘The Nora Jumper’), which to date is one of her best-sellers.
“A lot of people were contacting me saying they were missing unique patterns for boys – people were so grateful that they could finally knit something for their sons that was also cool and edgy. But equally, the patterns can be used for both boys and girls,” she adds.
The Pippi mentality
In the true spirit of Pippi Longstocking, her motto for knitting is ‘that looks hard – I’m going to do it’, which is how she embarked on a jumper project before anything else – something others may say is a fairly advanced project.
Pia has been through a true journey with her knitting. To begin with, knitting was a creative release at a time when she was at home with her children. When she went back to work, knitting became her way to relax from work and family life – and today, she’s incredibly pleased that she’s able to work with her true passion.
“It’s become a part-time job that I absolutely love,” she says. “At the moment, I’m writing my first book, which will be published on Aschehoug next autumn, and it’s taking up a lot of my time. I wake up with patterns in my head and think ‘oh! I need to write that down!’. The notes on my phone is filled with more than 20 designs which are all works in progress.”
Pia reveals that she almost gets emotional watching people knit her designs. “Something happened within me when I started designing – to be able to create exactly what I’m picturing and visualising is absolutely incredible.”
She firmly believes that the trend will only grow bigger in Scandinavia and predicts that it’ll pour into the rest of the world. “I barely have any patterns in English, but that’s on my list for next year,” she explains. “A lot of countries love Scandinavia – you can see it already in America and other countries, and I don’t think it’s going to become any less popular. There are so many people who love our patterns and the traditional knitwear, so it will be exciting to watch it grow.”
Picture perfect vs real life
Pia has released a multitude of patterns on her website, which is how she has gotten to know a lot of other people in the social media knitting community. A co-founder of the snapchat group ‘strikkere’ (‘knitters’), Pia loves to see what others are doing.
“I think there are over 5,000 people following the account now, and it’s so fun to feel like you’re getting closer to your followers. On Instagram, everything looks so perfect, but on Snapchat, we show who we really are. The last time I was in charge of the account, I got so many comments from people who loved to see how messy my house was – because that’s what life really is, especially with young kids. It’s really not picture perfect,” she says.
Inspired by just about anything she lays her eyes on, Pia can just as easily find a pattern on a bottle label that she loves, which then grows into a knitting pattern. “I’m really inspired by Knitting for Olive – they’re doing a completely different thing to me, but they’re so innovative in their thought processes and patterns. I like when people take unusual photos, and really take their time with it. That’s what inspires me,” she explains.
With Youtube and Instagram, Pia believes you can do anything. “You can make that braid cable in the picture you saw – there’s a whole world outside of your comfort zone. There’s always new techniques, things you can develop – you don’t need to do the same thing all the time.
“Get out and meet other knitters – if there aren’t any knitting meet-ups where you are, make it. Arrange it on Instagram – I did, and I now have a lot of new friends to share my passion with. It’s a whole community out there, of people who encourage and praise each other. I think everyone should join in,” she adds.
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