The first thing I do whenever I receive a new delivery from Höner och Eir, the familiar brown paper parcel filled with unspun Nutiden yarn, is to grab a plate of yarn, smush my face into it, and inhale deeply. If you haven't yet had this pleasure, go find a plate now. You'll see what I mean.
You might think that after years of knitting and designing with Nutiden yarn, and having amassed an impressive collection, I would have outgrown this ritual. Sadly, the unique scent of fresh Nutiden fades over time. If you're like me, with a dedicated wool room, the scent lingers in the air, contributing to a wonderfully cozy atmosphere. However, the plates themselves lose their scent gradually. That's why the initial obligatory whiff is a must whenever a new order arrives.
I have a particular fondness for the rustic, sheepy smell that many natural yarns retain, and Nutiden is no exception. However, Nutiden stands apart due to its unique and somewhat elusive scent. It faintly reminds me of nature and sheep, but also of something else I can't quite pinpoint. It harks back to the smell of old wooden houses, a scent that can be experienced when walking into a really old wooden building, especially during summer when everything is intensified by heat and sun. It's been a while since I've been in an old building like this - perhaps too long. Yet, I do remember a moment from about five years ago in the Allgäu Alps. Midway through the hike, we stopped to eat in a restaurant housed in a typical Bavarian centuries-old building. At some point, as I walked through a hallway with a wide-open window overlooking an alpine meadow where two happy, healthy-looking horses were playing, that familiar scent returned. I lingered for a while, trying to hold on to it in the same way you often try to when you want to preserve a moment and stay in it a bit longer. It was as if I could almost smell the past, part my own childhood, part imagining what life would have been like here in a different time, surrounded by these wooden walls and nature. That's the smell of Nutiden for me.
Anyone who has ever knit with Nutiden yarn can vouch for its magic. And I don't say that lightly. Yes, it is 'just yarn', but since the dawn of time, people have enjoyed attributing magical properties to everyday objects, spinning stories and meanings around them to enliven the mundane. Caroline, the creator of Nutiden yarn and the owner of Höner och Eir, with her team's assistance, has truly imbued her own magic into the yarn. I find the stories and inspirations behind each collection and individual colourway to be wonderful. Often drawn from Caroline's surroundings and experiences in beautiful Sweden, they form an important piece of the puzzle in the Nutiden experience.
I've often noted how the yarn itself serves as my inspiration. Some of my designs bear names or elements echoing the color, the sheep and wool behind them, or a combination of these. Of course, this doesn't happen with every yarn or every single Nutiden colorway. Sometimes, I simply find them beautiful and incorporate them into my designs for their wearability. But when inspiration strikes, it brings its own unique magic.
I still remember my first encounter with Nutiden and unspun yarn in general. Until then, I had only come in contact with Plötulopi - a couple of unused plates were sitting on my shelf, bought merely as a substitute for a particular colourway of Lettlopi during a shortage. Nutiden yarn wasn't even on my radar; I might have followed Höner och Eir on Instagram, but at the time, I had clicked 'follow' on just about every beautiful fiber and crafts account I could come across, and I hadn't paid very close attention.
Nutiden first really came into focus when I was running the test-knit for the Heritage Sweater, initially designed for Drops Alaska. One of my testers for the Heritage Sweater, the amazing Carmen (a fellow Nutiden aficionado) who you might know as one of the podcasters on ‘Knitting a Good Yarn’, opted to knit hers in Nutiden. When Caroline came across it, she contacted me, asking if she could use the design to showcase her new collection. As a result, the Heritage Sweater is now more associated with Nutiden than with the original yarn. This is thanks to Nutiden yarn's unparalleled lightness and warmth-to-weight ratio, among other things. After all, the original sweater, while a bit hefty, weighed just under 2kg, whereas a Nutiden version weighs only a few hundred grams.
And above all, you couldn't overlook how gorgeous Caroline's sample in a combination of nature white Ornithogalum, Lugnet, and Körsbeneja ('körsbär' means 'cherry' in Swedish) was, evoking images of gentle spring and cherry blossoms falling, imagery often depicted in Japanese animation films. Many of the colourways encompass a myriad of hues, making them notoriously challenging to capture in a photograph. Sometimes, you can only catch a glimpse of a particular shade under certain light conditions. As Caroline often points out, what stands out to us can change depending on our environment and the type of light conditions we have around us. But it's these subtle, barely discernible specks of colour that make each of them unique, adding an elusive but definitely present special touch. I still have this exact combination sitting on a shelf, waiting to be made into my own Heritage Sweater.
Not long after, I placed my first order and was incredibly fortunate to secure a few plates of Brunte – likely the most lanolin-rich colorway Höner och Eir will ever produce, as it's hard on the machines. I was really lucky that this was the colorway and blend that introduced me to the extraordinary world of unspun yarn; for many, it can be a rocky start. While working on my sample of the Tåkesti Shawl, the high lanolin content ensured minimal breakages and outstanding stability, making the knitting process incredibly fun – it felt like knitting with a built-in moisturizer.
Brunte, an old Swedish term for a working horse, inspired the design for the Tåkesti Shawl (from Norwegian: ‘fog trail’). With images of old wooden farmhouses and farmers, along with their trusty horses venturing out into the foggy morning to work in the fields, in mind, I aimed to create a shawl with a rustic texture that was simple, stable, durable yet engaging to knit – a true workhorse of a shawl really. This is something you'd want to wrap around your shoulders on a cool and crisp autumn morning as you step out onto your porch in the early light, cradling a large ceramic cup of coffee that warms your hands. Perhaps later, you'd pull up a chair to a wooden table by a window overlooking the meadow and the treeline, opening up a book at the passage you left off the previous night, the shawl still wrapped comfortably around your shoulders. To me, these images transcend time, encapsulating our shared history. There's a timeless quality in hand-knits and handcrafts. Working with unspun yarn, and specifically with Nutiden yarn, brings us as close to nature as we can get.
But let's return to the present day and discuss why I'm sharing all of this with you! Not long ago, Caroline offered an exclusive opportunity for Nutiden designers – to clarify, designers who have previously worked with this yarn, like myself – to pre-order and experience the colourways of the upcoming August collection, Lammas, before anyone else. As I begin to share photos of the colourways, I wanted to seize this opportunity to delve deeper into not only this collection but also my personal experience with Nutiden, and what Nutiden means to me – after all, it is the yarn I have designed and knit with the most. Up until now, I've only discussed Nutiden in brief snippets within Instagram captions, which don't truly do it justice. When Caroline first told me of the special plans she had for the designers, of course, I was intrigued and delighted. My curiousity quickly evolved into pure excitement when I caught sight of the new collection.
Every piece was beautiful, but two in particular immediately caught my eye. The first, '2neg=1 pos', is a lanolin-rich blend of mixed Gotland fibers, a truly gorgeous warm brown with grey and orange hues that feels substantial and slightly silky to the touch. The second, 'MasGULin', is a blend, with some Texel wool mixed in, portraying a rich golden yellow with an amber hue, which suggests a tone leaning more towards the brown-beige side of yellow. For some reason, I'm compelled to refer to it as 'vintage yellow'.
As someone who often shies away from vibrant colours, I found this particular shade of yellow subtly captivating, yet undeniably wearable. My initial instinct was to use these two colours together in a colorwork pattern, with the yellow providing a contrasting element. However, a quiet voice in the back of my mind urged that this radiant yellow deserved more – it warranted being the star of not just one, but two sweaters. Looking back, I'm glad I listened to that inner voice and chose to opt for sweater quantities of both colourways!
This collection, Lammas, and these two colourways that I am privileged to have, are special in many ways. I've mentioned before that Caroline typically has stories behind her creations, but as this was an early access collection and there have been no Patreon videos yet, I felt an exciting opportunity to create my own narratives.
To me this is a collection that fully embodies early fall. And while it is an August collection, it is often as early as August the first subtle signs of summer's end start to appear. As soon as I laid eyes on these yarns, a very particular image, a scene or more like a memory unfurled in my mind. It's hard to pinpoint the exact details, but I knew it was a crossroads I often encounter in a forest during one of my early autumn hikes. The landscape is a mixed forest, dominated by spruce trees, with a few grassy parts in front, alongside the gravel road before the trees begin. This scene for me is frozen in a sun-drenched afternoon. The air is still warm, but there's an undercurrent of crispness that speaks of autumn's impending arrival. The leaves, just starting to yellow and fall, might suggest autumn, but they could be a product of the summer's heat. And amid all this, there are several indistinct yellow flowers, a staple of fall. The air is thick with warmth, subtly humming, yet whispers of coolness hint at autumn. The world takes on a brownish hue, turning yellow, embodying my idea of early fall.
In this scene, you can comfortably spend most of the day in a T-shirt, with your lightweight, dependable woollen sweater ever-ready by your side. Savouring coffee from an enamel mug mid-hike feels just right; the sun's warmth more a gentle embrace than an overwhelming burn. You'll yearn for these laid-back days, the warmth that seems to seep into your very soul. You'll miss these tranquil moments of stillness, enjoyed outdoors. Before long, the leaves will transform into a vibrant spectacle, and not too long after that, the world will stand barren and bare. But that time is not now. Right now, you crave to linger just a little longer, in a moment where life feels absolutely perfect.
So, I leave you with this scene, as I go off to swatch and strive to convey this atmosphere to you. I will soon share my hands-on experience with the yarn and both colourways, I hope you share in my excitement to witness how this journey unfolds. Rest assured, there are new sweater designs and a knitting pattern on the horizon, maybe even two! It is my hope that these knitting patterns will provide you, too, with moments of joy and inspiration, and enable you to weave your own stories with Nutiden.Copyright notice: The header image and the first three photos are copyright © Caroline / Höner och Eir and are used with permission. The last two images and the accompanying text are copyright © Lív Ulven / woodlandsknits.com.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the header image, first three photos, last two images, or accompanying text without express and written permission from the respective copyright owners is strictly prohibited.