Untreated, hand-sorted wool from free-range ‘Hammershus-lam’ sheep – dyed with plants using age-old traditions – has an aesthetic, utility quality that is extraordinary. In Jette Jensen’s shop – Strikkehjørnet, on Kirkepladsen in Allinge – this local yarn comes in a small but exclusive product range – and it is only sold here.
The wool has not travelled across great distances to be sold in the shop. It’s locally produced. The yarn is created on the Hammer Peninsula where Jette lives. From the windows of her house on the Hammer, she can actually look out at the sheep that currently supply wool to her shop. The sheep graze on the Hammer Peninsula, which is where Jette sorts the wool and dyes the yarn, as one of the most eco-friendly ways to make yarn. The sheep live a good life, freely roaming the area as part of Bornholm’s nature conservation programme. Jette dyes the yarn using plants from Bornholm’s countryside. She frequently uses plants from waysides, as well as plants gathered from gardens or woods. The plants she uses for dyeing have been in use since the early medieval period and the Viking Age. She produces excellent utility yarn. It has a beautiful surface with a special lustre. The wool retains body heat and is durable. It works well in textured patterns and multicoloured knitwear, and it’s popular among those who appreciate quality yarn.
Jette learned to knit from her mother at the age of five, and her interest in knitting has grown ever since. Her skill and historical interest prompted her to open her shop, Strikkehjørnet, eight years ago on Kirkepladsen in Allinge. Five years ago, she began to work intensively with local wool, as well, using wool from the same sheep she has been looking at from her home for years. She dyes the wool using plants such as heather, birch, oak, wormwood, tansy, chervil, broom/genista, madder root and walnut shell, as well as natural materials not found in Denmark. Some of them have been imported for centuries, such as dried leaves and roots like indigo and madder root, as well as small red cochineal insects.
Natural woollen yarn from Strikkehjørnet is dyed using an old artisanal tradition that dates back to the early medieval period and has continued until industrialisation. This was when synthetic dyes emerged and the textile industry gradually outcompeted the traditional methods. They managed to survive nevertheless and have been handed down through archaeology, ‘Viking markets’, etc. Woollen yarn dyed with natural materials has unique properties that industrial products lack, such as a long useful life, colour fastness and comfort. There are many good reasons to pay a visit to Strikkehjørnet. Not only is it a sensory experience for knitting freaks and yarn enthusiasts, but it’s equally interesting for anyone interested in history.