The Norwegian Knitters: Confronting gender stereotypes

ChristinaAs a social anthropologist, 25-year-old Christina Lernes (@minimalist.hippie) is inherently against gender stereotypes. When she returned to the motherland from Manchester pregnant last year, she couldn’t find any clothes that weren’t pink or blue.

Taking matters into her own hands in January this year, she began to knit. “I was pregnant and I wasn’t very well, so I spent most of the time lying in bed,” says Christina, who now lives in her hometown Trondheim with her British fiancé and 8-month-old daughter.

“But I’m an incredibly impatient person, so I was getting bored out of my mind. My mum has always knitted a lot, and I’ve got a friend who works in a yarn shop. So I started on my own with the help of YouTube, and asked them for help when I needed to.”

minimalist.hippieWith less than a year of knitting under her belt, Christina explains that the ‘minimalist hippie’ name refers to her time in Manchester when she started living a minimalist lifestyle. “The hippie part is mostly political, so it’s not knitting related,” she laughs.

Mental health benefits

With a history of mental health problems including anxiety and depression, Christina believes that knitting has been incredibly good for her.

“The sense of achievement I get from knitting has really helped me, so I get a lot out of it in that way. Knitting is proven to reduce stress, and it’s good to be able to create something that you think is nice,” she adds.

Christina explains that she was so impatient in the past that she couldn’t sit still for long enough to watch a film or series, but knitting has now taught her how to relax and take it easy.

With a preference for baby clothes – like many people seem to have, she slightly regretted embarking on what she refers to as the ‘forever project’ when she decided to knit a jumper for her husband this year. “It was on a size 6 needle, so I thought it’d be fairly quick. But throwing myself into knitting a men’s jumper in a size XL – it really wasn’t,” she says.

However, she wasn’t completely scared off – she has since knitted the No Frills Sweater by PetiteKnit for herself and is currently knitting a big oversized cardigan.

A brand ambassador

minimalist.hippie2Christina is also one of four brand ambassadors for Guttenogstrikkemor, who she first met at Trondheim Strikketreff (‘knitting meetup’). “Pia wanted ambassadors for both adult and baby clothing, so I put out a collage out on Instagram and was chosen together along with three others.”

Being an ambassador means she receives clothes and takes pictures with them, before publishing them on Instagram. The brand also gets to use the images.

The monthly meetings in Trondheim see anything from 30 to 80 knitters gather, which Christina enjoys due to the shared interests. “Knitting is a very big part of what I do now. I went from not knitting to not doing anything but knit,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to do it with others.”

Having lived four years in Manchester, she explains that her English in-laws and friends think it’s incredible that she can knit. “They’re not used to it, so they don’t see how it’s possible. They think it’s quite odd though, but it’s not for me because I’ve always been around people who knit.

“My friends are a bit like ‘oh, you knit? Don’t you have anything better to do?’” she laughs. “I only noticed one yarn shop in all of Manchester for the four years I was there. But I don’t think I ever would have started if I hadn’t seen it around me so much – and if I hadn’t learnt how to knit and purl in school.”

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