Thursday, June 6, 2013

Finnish Travels - Part 1 
 The Korsnäs Hembygdsförenings

The Hembygdsförenings located in Korsnäs, Finland

From very early in my life I have had an intense interest in my family history.  Like most Americans I'm a 'mutt'.  However, a quarter of my ancestry comes from the Swedes that populate the western coast of Finland.  The only problem was that aside from a few bits of oral history, some old photos and an worn wooden butter box, all traces of those origins had disappeared.  It wasn't until recently after much research and the help of some wonderful people I met five years ago, that I was able to reconnect with my Swedish-Finn roots.  The journey has been remarkable to say the least!

Oldest mans Korsnäs sweater in the museums collection

My great grandfather emigrated from Molpe, Finland in the Korsnäs region of Ostrobothnia in western Finland.  Korsnäs is known for a very unique type of textile that is often a combination of knitting and tapestry crochet. They have a wonderful little museum in the town center of Korsnäs known as the Hembygdsförenings.  Volunteer Inga-Britt Mannfolk graciously opened the museum for us on a Sunday so that we could see the incredible collection of textiles that it housed.

These sweaters are typically made by using a tapestry crochet technique for the top and bottom of both the sleeves and the sweater body.  It's a very durable technique that withstands wear quite well.  The body of the sweater is then knit, often with three woman working together on the 'lice' patten.  The knitted body stretched allowing for expansion as a person aged.  These sweaters were first made in the mid 1800's for men and latter were adapted for woman.

Korsnäs sweater with cap
The tapestry crochet technique was also used on a wide range of other textiles.  The museum had a sizable collection of small bags that were used for money or tobacco from the entire Korsnäs region.

Money bag from Korsnäs

Tobacco bag from Korsnäs
This technique also lent itself to a number of different styles of bands for use with trousers, dresses and blankets.

Decorative band for a sleigh blanket

Sleigh blanket woven in monksbelt with tapestry crochet edge, additional tapestry crochet bands and rigid heddle bands

Breast plate
This unique 'breast plate' for a man would have been worn in the v area inside of a mans vest.

Wrist warmer with decorative fringe

The caps that I saw as well as one pair of socks used the combination of knitting and tapestry crochet.  The mittens however were knitted only with patterns that emulated the tapestry crochet patterns.  I was pleased to see several pairs of mittens for sale in the lobby of the museum along with patterns for sweaters, mittens and hats.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of these textiles as well as how to make them, I would strongly recommend the book, 'Decorative Crocheting' by Marketta Luutonen, Anna-Maija Bäckman and Gunnar
Bäckman.  It was published in 2003 by österbottens hantverk rf in Vaasa, Finland.  The text is in English (as well as Swedish and Finnish) - thank Swedish is atrocious!


  1. Thanks for Part 1. Love the textiles and looking forward to Part 2.

  2. Hi! I stumbled on your site while doing my own family research. My ancestors also immigrated from Korsnas, and lived in or near Molpe! I too am fascinated by my Swedish Finnish ancestry and all things Scandinavian. Unlike you, however, I am JUST now learning to knit :)

  3. Good luck with your knitting Judy! If you are close to the west coast of the US, the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle has been hosting an annual Nordic Knitting Conference. They've had some great class offerings over the last several years.