Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sweden Part 2: Kalmar

This has taken me far too long. I thought that I didn't really have much to say in this post, but I think I have plenty as I look at it. What I was going to do was include a post on Stitches Midwest and the yarn I bought there, because Stitches was incredible AND because I could link it to the Sweden post -- the link would come from the fact that I took the Bohus Stickning class with Susanna Hansson on Sunday, which is a Swedish-designed style of knitting. However, I cannot for the life of me find my camera, so I don't have any images to share of that stuff. So, here I am, sharing with you just the Kalmar portion of our trip to Europe.

It began with our train trip from Stockholm to Kalmar. It was my husband's first European train trip, so of course I had to document it:
Doesn't he look excited? I'm sure he'll want to kill me for posting this picture. If I were him, I'd want to kill me....

We went to Kalmar for Midsummer. I thought that we'd get to see some of the traditional festivities associated with Midsummer, which is the celebration of the longest day of the year. Unfortunately, we did not. In fact, as it turns out, the Swedes take their vacation/holidays pretty darn seriously and everything had basically shut down. I was initially disappointed, but it was nice not to feel like we had to run around everywhere sightseeing, etc.

What was open when we were there, though, was the Kalmar Castle and that was a cool thing to get to see. Here it is:
I really enjoyed it. It wasn't packed full of people or tons and tons of information. It was just right -- it was curated surprisingly well considering its location. There wasn't a lot of information, but the information that was there was very clear, and it was so open, you almost got an actual sense of what it would have been like to live there (it had a more personal feel to it than many of the historical places one visits that is full of visitors and lots of audio-visual information).

In addition to the normal stuff, they had an exhibit on the botanist Linnaeus (about whom the Swedes seem to be very excited). It's the 300th anniversary of his death. While it makes sense that they would celebrate such a big year, it seems like I saw a lot of items around Sweden commemorating each decade of the man's life -- whenever the year ends in a 7. Maybe I'm exaggerating, though. I got this impression particularly at the glass studios.

They also had a really good exhibit on the women's jail that was located in the castle for a while. That exhibit detailed the kind of crimes that the women who were jailed there had committed and how those different crimes would historically have been treated.

Additionally, they had a display on rag rugs. This doesn't sound exciting, but I really enjoyed it. Here are some photos:

These reminded me of rugs I used to see (and even got to make once) at the Woods Hall Craft Shop on Madeline Island (in Lake Superior in Wisconsin). I wondered, since there are so many Swedes in the Great North Woods, if the rugs they make there were inspired by this rag rug tradition. These rugs that were shown at the castle were all old. They had been laying around, wasting away in people's homes in Sweden, when someone decided that these rugs should be documented. Interestingly, of course, the people who had them thought of them as rags and as things of very little value. Funny how that happens. They were made of men's old work shirts and other used items that were laying around the house when the weaver wanted to make something. It's much like the tradition of old quilts which were made of leftover fabrics that were around the house.

The same is true of the Bohus sweaters, I think. I mean, they were never made of leftovers and they have always been haute couture, but they were put away in people's closets never to be seen again since they went out of style in the 60's. Then Susanna Hansson (and some others) took an interest and decided to look into them and this has revived the interest in them. It's interesting how that happens -- the way that we have something for a long time, maybe even love it, but we get sick of it or things change and we stop loving those things -- sometimes swinging to a fashion that is vastly different specifically for the purpose of rejecting what we have been doing (and loving). Then, after enough time has passed, we come back to those old things that we loved and see them as new again and want to have them around once more, thereby creating a renaissance of that item. It's wonderful, I think, that the things that we've loved so much do come back to us again eventually.

Anyway, we left the castle and wandered around a little. What we found was this weirdo tree:

And at the restaurant where we had dinner, we found this guy:
The guy I'm talking about here is, of course, the guy with the Santa Claus outfit on in the middle of June....

On our last day, we decided to do the glass works tours that our guide book advised us against since we loooove glass. So, we went to Pukeberg Glasbruk first. It was an old facility and we bought some glass there. Of course, I can't show you what we got, because as I said above, no camera.... Here is that place from the outside:

From there, we went to Johansfors, where we didn't like the glass all that much (all of the glass works had really distinctive styles, so every one could find something they would like, but I also don't think anyone would like all of the glass works' styles) -- though I admit some of my dislike may simply have been for the display. Outside they had a cool mosaic, though:

From there, we went lastly to Kosta. We LOVE Kosta glass, but we didn't get anything there, because we already had bags full of yarn and it would have been hard to fill up with glass, too, but it was also a lack of desire to carry super breakable stuff around with us everywhere we went. It is also true that a lot of the things that we saw at the huge retailers, like Kosta, are things that we see in the U.S., so I think that tempered my enthusiasm for buying as well. The one thing we did miss out on, though, because of this decision, was the chance to get the glass at much reduced prices.

Well, that concludes the Swedish portion of our trip. Yes, we really made it away from Kalmar without yarn -- there was none to be seen. Boo.

Onto the train, now for Copenhagen!!

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