Peer Gynt on Parade (or Ibsen in Wool)

A guest blog by Anne Gillespie Lewis:

If you were quick enough, you could read the entire script of Ibsen’s dramatic masterpiece, Peer Gynt, on the front and back of 571 wool sweaters as their wearers paraded them through the streets of Bergen, Norway on October 14th.

The event, which was many months in the making, took place on the 150th anniversary, to the day, of Ibsen finishing the play. The marchers were young, old and in-between, women and men, girls and boys. There were several multi-generational groups, each person wearing a different sweater.

And if you looked closely, you might have noticed number 335 (each sweater was assigned a number), sky blue with white lettering, worn by my cousin Svanhilde Breisnes from Kaupanger. Her sweater was knit by her super-knitter daughter, Torunn Karin Kolås.

Sweater #335 modeled by another of Anne’s cousins, Ragnhild Kolås

The organizer of the project, Britt-Elin Skogseide, put out a call for knitters and Torunn responded. She got accepted into the project and was given a description of how the sweater should look, with a photo of the text she had to knit, with 14 lines on the front and 15 on the back. An expert knitter, she said it took her one or two months total, but not knitting every day. It was hard to determine the time spent, she said, because Torunn is one busy lady!


“It was really fun to be a part of this crazy fairytale, to knit the Peer Gynt play on sweaters. I knit a lot but I usually am not pressed for time to finish something. This time I had a deadline and everything else was pushed away. I did my normal job during the day at Technology Center Mongstad, which does research on capturing Carbon Dioxcide, and then I would knit all evening.” But that wasn’t all she did:  “In my spare time, I organize and help the school band in Lindås where my daughter, Ragnhild, plays the cornet. I also like to walk in the mountains with my husband and friends.”

Somehow, she found the time to knit. “It was fun and worth all the work. The sweater looked very nice and was finished on time.” Ragnhild is modeling the sweater in the photo here, but both she and Torunn had to leave Svanhild to model it in the parade as the family was on vacation in Spain.

To view all of the sweaters in the parade, click here.


Anne Gillespie Lewis Photo credit: Ewa Rydåker

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