The graphic designers turned knitwear designers are everywhere these days – and with good reason. Gro Kristiansen behind the brand @Veslestrikk started knitting about three years ago, when her firstborn was one. Straight away, she designed her first pattern.
“I’ve never really knitted from a pattern,” admits Gro. “I started knitting a jumper from a book once, just to see what it was like, but I found it incredibly boring.”
Six months into her learning curve, the Lettvintgenser (‘easy knit jumper’) was made, and that was a big success.
“I got so much good feedback from it, but I still didn’t do much about it for another six months, until I went to knit a pair of trousers for a friend of mine who was expecting,” she explains.
Gro subsequently knitted the light blue, grey and white trousers known from her ‘easy knit’ series, and that was the proper beginning of her knitwear design career.
Made to order
Though she never planned to do a series, each and every item that has come after the jumper and trousers have been made to order.
“People have been like ‘oh can you make a onesie? Can you make a jacket?’ And it’s just carried on like that,” she smiles.
She believes that the reason people loved the series is due to the buttons from the neckline to the feet.
“The trousers aren’t very special at all, but I think the buttons make people notice it more. I remember sitting in a hotel room in Berlin when I was starting it, and the plan was to just have buttons up to the crotch.
“But I didn’t know how to finish it, so I made them all the way up to the neckline.
“And that’s been a real trademark of the series. But it also means lots of loose threads to sew in at the end,” she laughs.
Why is knitting such a big part of your life?
“It’s mainly just a great part of my everyday life – I love knitting in those moments where I wouldn’t be doing anything else if I wasn’t knitting. And to top it all off, it has become a bit of a hobby business, and I now set myself targets for my turnover every month,” she says.
Gro absolutely loves being able to design clothes for her children to wear at nursery, and she gets a lot of feedback about how practical her designs are.
“I also love it when I see kids at nursery wearing something I’ve designed – it’s happened a few times. I’ve also seen people on the street wearing my designs, and it’s such an amazing feeling,” she adds.
But Gro is keen to remember that it’s also meant as a hobby. “I design periodically – all dependant on what I have time for and when I can do it in relation to my job and family life as well,” she says, adding that she currently works as a social media manager.
“It takes a lot of prioritisation, keeping my business up and running. I have to set aside time for it, and set aside evenings to write,” she explains.
However, after creating her business, she feels that her relationship with knitting has somewhat changed.
A commercial shift
“I can see a lot more opportunities now. I think people have gotten a bit more commercial in this industry, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. People are realising that they can have their hobby as an income, and I think that’s really cool,” she adds.
She finds it fascinating to watch the development of the movement in Norway. “There are such strong traditions for crafts in Norway, I think that’s why we see so much of it here.
“The reason I started knitting was because I was watching my mother and my mother-in-law knit, and I just felt like I had to learn it.”
Gro remembers being on holiday when she was attempting her first purl, which is when she discovered youtube tutorials – and never looked back.
“After discovering Instagram, I decided my goal would be to knit so many items that I could put them in a pile and take a photo, so that’s what I did, and that felt like a proper milestone,” she smiles.
Despite not knitting much for herself these days, she’s lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who knits for her so that she can knit for the kids.
What does the future look like for @Veslestrikk?
“I’m just going to carry on the way I have. There are so many books and patterns out now, and I’m sure there’ll be lots more. But that’s fine – because there will always be new babies, and new babies need new clothes,” she adds.