We had a breathtakingly beautiful arrival as we sailed into Bergen Norway, misty and wonderful. It was our first stop on the Craft Cruises Trans-Atlantic Knitting Cruise last summer.
There is lots to see and do in this gorgeous little gem of a city.
Adventures abound around every winding corner, charming tiny houses often with lace curtains, a bustling fish market and fine shops.
The highlight of our visit for me was a visit to the Oleana Factory. I’ve loved this Norwegian brand since their very beginning. My mom picked up a sweater in Norway way back in the early 90’s, and I used to keep the tiny 3 x 3 inch catalog she brought home next to my bed, for inspiration before I went to sleep.
The idea for Oleana began over tea. Alarmed that most production of Norwegian textiles was moving out of the country, three friends and colleagues, decided to start a company of their own. Their backgrounds: a knitter, an economist and a textile engineer. This was a bit of a dangerous undertaking in the 90s.
Oleana wasn’t only interested in keeping the textile industry alive in Norway, they wanted to produce some of the most beautiful knitwear in the world, with a commitment to fine, progressive design. Oleana combines a fresh modern look with design traditions of the past.
Their first hire was Solveig Hisdal, an amazing artist trained in fashion design. Her process begins with sketches, so beautiful they are worthy of framing all on their own!
Solveig remains the sole designer and is responsible for the entire look, including styling and location scouting for photoshoots and all the photography! She even produced a model. Oleana’s first model was Solvieg’s daughter and to this day all of their models are relatives of the owners or employees.
Solveig Hisdal has been the winner of “The Award for Design Excellence” by the Norwegian Design Council six times! In 2001 she was awarded Norway’s top prize for design, architecture and handicrafts, the Jacobprisen from Norsk Form.
The factory itself, situated on an exquisite fjord about a half hour outside of Bergen is a thing of beauty! Like no factory I’d ever visited – fresh and clean, modern and inspiring!
Co-Owner Signe Aarhus, the textile engineer mentioned, (above right) showed us around and shared the Oleana story.
Eye candy everywhere.
What an exhilarating treat our visit was!
Notice the views!
Precision work, committed employees…
…with a sense of humor!
Yarn bombing shows the way!
If you’d like to visit, there’s another North Atlantic Craft KnittingCruise next summer with awesome Gwen Bortner. Make sure you let Mel know I sent you!
To learn more about Oleana, you should really get a copy of their gorgeous book, Oleana From dream to fairytale reality…I got mine at the factory and don’t see it on their website, so you might write to them to inquire, it is absolutely stunning!