The Norwegian Knitters: A budding designer

Photo by: Lise Høyer

By night, Ida Wirak Trettevik (@idawitre) works as a nurse in the regional department for eating disorders in Oslo, as her maternity leave is coming to an end. By day, she is the 28-year-old painfully stylish mum of three boys, and spends the majority of her free time knitting incredible patterns and dreaming about making them herself one day.

“There’s something brewing inside of me when I talk about potentially designing something,” Ida reluctantly admits. “I haven’t decided exactly what it is yet, but I think I’d really enjoy doing something creative. There are so many concepts out there right now, so you kind of have to do something a bit different. Last night my husband said ‘Ida, it’s time’,” she laughs.

The Alba jacket

Ida loves being able to make clothes for herself and the children instead of buying them in the shop, and she especially likes to modify patterns to get them to fit her style.

P1014818 (1)She is also the co-creator of the alba jacket, which was a modification of Catharina Ilstad’s (@knipsarina / @hipknitshop) Alba jumper, test knitted by Ida. The jacket is a super long version of the jumper, with a gorgeous thick braid down the back.

“I was speaking to Catharina, who runs Hip Wool (@hipwool), and I said her yarn would be so good for a long jacket. You don’t always have time to make everything you want, but she said I should let her know if I wanted to try it. It’s one of those things where I just needed a kick up the bum – so I said ‘yes – I do!’.”

The jacket is entirely based on Catharina’s Alba jumper, but it’s created by Ida. “I’ve sort of helped her with a pattern, so it’s sold in her shop, but it’ll have my name on it,” she adds.

A lifelong knitter

Ida declares that she’s always knitted. “I learnt how to knit from my mum, and I remember my auntie Anne took on the task of teaching me how to purl. I knitted a jumper when I was quite young. I didn’t knit in the same way as I would now, but I’ve always known how to do it,” she says.

When she was in America as an exchange student 10 years ago, she took a craft class where each of the students would hold an hour-long presentation on a theme of their choosing. “I taught them how to finger knit, which was really fun,” says Ida.

“To be able to teach Americans about knitting and talk about Norwegian traditions was really exciting, because they were so surprised that I could actually do it. I remember finding a picture of a male knitter to show them, to normalise knitting and to highlight the fact that it’s for everyone.”

Accidental PetiteKnit models

Photo by: Lise Høyer

Despite what looked like a staged photo shoot with models hired in all the way from Norway, the gorgeous trio you may have seen pop up multiple times on PetiteKnit  actually just happened to go on a girls trip to Denmark, where they met with the creator, Mette Wendelboe Okkels.

“We’ve all test knitted for Mette, and we talked about going to Copenhagen on a girls’ trip,” says Ida. “Mette lives in Århus, so we thought – we might as well go there. It’s mainly about eating a hotel breakfast and shopping for yarn,” she laughs. “It was a bit of a random but nice encounter, where we brought what we’d made from her designs, so she got to take a few photos. Outwards it looks quite staged, but it really wasn’t.”

Ida loves how sociable the community in Norway is, and admits that it’s been on of the driving factors for why she is so into knitting today.

“It’s a hobby that is not sociable at all – it’s not like playing football where you get to know your teammates. That’s why it’s even more valuable that people are making it into a way of socialising, because there are so many people you would never meet otherwise,” she says.

However, the truth is, if it wasn’t for knitting, Ida would never sit still. “It’s how I relax – and at least I’m producing something when I do,” she smiles.

Anonymising the children

Ida is incredibly conscious of anonymising her own children on social media, as she believes that there is perhaps a tendency to expose children too much – all in good spirits, of course. “I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it,” says Ida.

IdaWitre_kids.jpg“I don’t mean people shouldn’t have pictures of their children at all, but I think people quickly forget, due to the positivity of the community, that so many people can see their posts and stories. The photos and information can be misused, so I’ve tried to anonymise my children so much that they wouldn’t be recognised if anyone saw them in the street.”

Ida has made a conscious decision not to write their names or post pictures based on events or private situations where her kids are the focal point. “It’s my hobby and knitting is my focus – they’re simply part of the everyday life that happens around it. If their face is shown, it’s either blurry or cut out of the picture, so you don’t see them that well.”

But she is quick to highlight the fact that she doesn’t want to seem lecturing in any way. “I don’t want to be part of the ‘mum police’. And it’s so hard to say something in a way that doesn’t make people get defensive,” she adds. “But it’s something that’s very close to my heart.”

Ida’s top knitting tips

1. Take the time to finish it

“Make it long if you want it long. I’m so glad I bothered to knit the extra hours and days to make long jackets and long dresses. It’s worth it.”

2. Use Google

“If you’re stuck, or if you’re worried you’re not getting a pattern right, go online. Strikkezilla or Pickles have both got amazing videos. That’s how I started.”

3. Measure as you go

“No body is the same – measure the garment as you go along.”

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