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Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4 Book 5 Book 6 Book 7 Book 8 Book 9 Book 10 Book 11 Book 12 Book 13 Book 14 Book 15 Book 16 Book 17 Book 18 Book 19 Book 20 Book 21 Book 22 Book 23 Book 24 Wool Designs About Elsebeth

Text logo: Elsebeth Lavold design

Image logo: elsebeth lavold design

... a retrospective

1962A skinny girl in the worst years of her life crawls around on the floor of the craft class, pretending to be searching for a needle. She is prepared to do whatever it takes to avoid knitting. Without the help of her mother and aunt, not a single project would have been finished. This is probably the origin of her creativity: Finding new excuses to escape from the repulsive tools.
   Her partiality to eccentric hats, a genetic defect she inherited from her father, has become a bit less eccentric with time.

Photo of the designer at approx. 10 years of age.
Photo: Torleif Lavold


From Damernas Värld: the first garment Elsebeth Lavold sold.
Photo: Tony Landberg

A headstrong teenager has begun to knit. Partly because the knitwear she fancies simply isn't available in stores, partly as a way to kill time during high school math classes. She brings her first design to the editor of Damernas Värld (Women's World, a Swedish fashion magazine). Not only does she get appreciation; she actually gets paid!
   Complicated calculations are key elements in her life as a designer. At times, her math teacher's verdict still stands: Impeccable reasoning, erroneous result. Aren't we lucky to have proofreaders with knitting skills.

1980The little girl in the weird hat never became an anthropological linguist; instead she became a professional designer. Yarn companies and magazines buy all the designs she can produce, and ask for more.
   She seeks new challenges, and strives to increase her own knowledge about various knitting techniques. She discovers that the textbook she would have needed doesn't exist. So... she writes it herself (right).
   In 1981, her second book, Stickmodeller med variationer (Knitwear Designs with Variations), is released.

The cover of Elsebeth Lavold's first book
 Cover Photo: Sven-Erik Rova


A highly appreciated design, published in Femina, a Swedish women's magazine, in 1992
Photo: Ewa-Mari Johansson

Well established as a knitwear designer, Elsebeth gets a very different assignment: To illustrate a book on excursions to historic sites in the Stockholm area. She gets totally absorbed by the beautiful and distinct ornamental traditions of the Viking Age, and discovers entrelac patterns "impossible to knit". Impossible in 1990.
   Her design is predominantly focused on cable patterns. Elsebeth attributes her soft spot for cables to the fact that she is a lazy knitter. People who know her would disagree.
   This photo appeared in the magazine Femina in 1992. In a sense, it foretells the arrival of the Viking Knits. But the technique is still far from fully developed.

1993The photo shows a sweater from 1993: Tyra. Elsebeth has come a long way in her exploration of Viking Age entrelac, but the final piece of the puzzle is still missing: the technique that allows for cables to change their direction and to knit placed motifs.
   The photo, however, is from 2000 - about the time when her husband and business partner, Anders Rydell, started to get involved in the photography (not to mention all the other aspects he got, and gets, involved in).
   In 2009, a reworked version of Tyra was included in the book The Third Viking Knits Collection.

An example of an early design inspired by Viking Age handicraft: Tyra


The design Svava was chosen for the first exhibit poster
Photo: Per-Erik Berglund

One of the first designs to display Elsebeth's technical innovation is the depicted Svava, created in 1994. The original photo was used on the first poster for the Knitting Along the Viking Trail exhibit, and the superimposed detail from a sleeve shows a placed motif. The pattern appears on a Viking Age bronze buckle from Skabersjö in the south of Sweden.
   The accumulation of swatches, garments, and knowledge fuels the initially vague plans for a book and an exhibition. Alas, The Viking Knits Project is born. Follow the link to find out more about it.

1997The exhibit first opens in the spring of 1997, and the book about the project is released in 1998.
   The book and the exhibit have separate web pages. For this page, we have chosen a design that does not appear on any one of them, but is still included in both the book and the exhibit: the jacket/hood/backpack combo Vigdis.
   To date, the exhibit has been on display at some fifteen museums in Sweden, one in Denmark and four in the US. There are six editions of the book in different languages. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to claim that that The Viking Knits Project is an important step on Elsebeth's path to international recognition.

Vigdis, photo from the book Viking Patterns for Knitting
Photo: Per-Erik Berglund


One of the well over a hundred garments designed for Gepard Yarns

In 1997, Ingen Konst AB begins marketing yarns from the Danish company Gepard in Sweden and Finland. It soon becomes obvious that the Swedish market expects Swedish design, and a steady stream of new designs flows out of Elsebeth's studio.
  The photo, from 1999, shows one of the many garments that emerged as a result of her access to the new yarns.
   Parallel to the "Danish" designs, she continues working with Swedish yarn manufacturers and importers. In spite of the fact that knitting is totally out of fashion in the late nineties, there is ample demand for Elsebeth Lavold designs.

1998 Knitter's Magazine discovers the Swedish designer, guided in the process by her American friend and colleague Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, now living in Sweden.
   The jacket in the photo, Gefjon from the winter issue of 1998, is the first design in long row to be published by Knitter's.
   Thus, the first step on the path to making Elsebeth Lavold Design a part of the Swedish export industry is taken.

Gefjon, the first US export item
Photo: Alexis Xenakis


A much admired design from the Knitting I-cords book

A playful and vivid distraction from the technically demanding and "academic" Viking Knits becomes the book Stickat med I-snoddar (Knitting I-cords, not available in English).
   I-cord knitting was not well known in Sweden at the time, and the book presents a large number of designs in the technique, ranging from beginner's projects to more challenging ones.
   With the book, the Lavold-Rydell design and production team is definitely established: Elsebeth designs the knitwear and writes the instructions; Anders supplies additional text material and does the photography and graphic design. This is still their standard operating procedure.

2003The "US Adventure" takes off, big time. The exhibit is shipped to Minnesota, and Elsebeth is introduced as a "world class designer" at Stitches West in Oakland, CA. In a joint venture with KFI, the leading US yarn company, Elsebeth starts developing her own yarn line. The scrawny girl who hated craft has become a true celebrity in knitwear design.
   In the photo, Elsebeth is enjoying the company of her Welsh colleague Sasha Kagan during a trip to Kent, WA, in 2004. Mutual appreciation is obvious, even if they are both wearing their own designs and not each other's.

Sasha Kagan and Elsebeth Lavold with each other's books

To be continued. For sure.

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Copyright © unless otherwise stated
 Elsebeth Lavold, knitwear design & drawings
Anders Rydell, text & photos