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Spinning in Scandinavia Silja Devine – Featured artist: Birthe Pedersen of Garngalleriet

by SiljaD on May 11, 2014

BPapril14Birthe Pedersen is an amazing Danish fiberartist who is the owner of Garngalleriet. This woman can do anything when it comes to fiber! She has fantastic sense of color and her work with color in knitting and weaving is wonderful! Birthe also has one of the few fiberclubs in Scandinavia, and she dyes the most awesome colorways in both fibers and yarns. I got to know Birthe in a Norwegian spinningforum a few years back, and I have also been following her blog and on Facebook for some time now.


Silja: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Birthe: I live in Denmark, in a small village with my husband and my boy and girl twins. They are almost 15. This year I’ll turn 50, so I’m still young and have plenty of time to spin a lot, design knitting garments and dye fibers and yarn for my webshop. In 2001 I started GarnGalleriet. For the first 10 years I ran it as a real LYS, but since 2011 I have had a webshop. I like it this way. Not being tied by being opening particular gives me more freedom to – well…work. Dye. Spin. Knit. And to take a break from it all whenever I like and go running or cycling for a while. Even though I have a business I’m not a business woman. I run my workshop and webshop primarily for the love of the fiber and creative work – not for making money. If money had interested me more I guess I would have stuck with the dental profession. (My formal education is dentist.)

IMG_3119Silja: What made you choose yarn and fiber as your medium?

Birthe: I think fiber and yarn choose me. I mean, even if I did get a“proper”education it was still the knitting, the weaving, the creative process with yarn that captured me.
My mother was a keen knitter – I guess I have inherited her passion for the craft!

Silja: Your shop Garngalleriet has been around for quite some time in both a brick and mortar store and now as a webshop, What made you transition from a brick and mortar to a pure webshop?

IMG_2850Birthe: The financial crisis and a hot summer in combination 3 years ago resulted in several months with next to no sales in my shop. I was heartbroken, because I realized that I could not continue paying the rent with an income that small. I decided to close down. But during the closing sale I made the decision to stay in business, just with a webshop instead of a real shop. This helped to lowering my expenses. And narrowing in my workfield to fibres and yarns dyed by me. Making it very specialized. At the same time that narrowed my patronage, but these customers are more loyal and know what they want. I try to give them exactly that!

Silja: You have had a fiberclub for some time too. What was it that gave you the inspiration or idea to start that club, and what is it that inspires you when you pick the fibers and colors for the club? And I just have to say that I love looking at your fiberwheels!

Birthe: Why, thank you! I have subscribed to several fiber clubs from different indie dyers over the years. I know the feeling of excitement when the time is up for a fresh shipment – a completely new and unseen colourway on its way. Love that! So, it’s only natural that I want to offer the same thing to my customers.
Also, it forces me to think up a new and beautiful colourway every month. Not that it hard, not at all. The difficult thing is often to choose from 2, 3 or more ideas.. :-) My inspiration comes from many different places. Fashion. Nature, plants and animals. Landscapes. Images I see on TV or online. Sometimes I find the name of the colorway first – then pick the colours to match the feeling of that name.

IMG_4636Silja: In your blog you talk about and show pictures of all kinds of fibercrafts:  knitting, spinning, weaving and several others. What is the thing you like to do the most and why?

Birthe: Spinning is my favorite. Because it allows me to work with the basic substance of all textile crafts: the fiber itself and the colour. Spinning is the mother of knitting, weaving and the rest of the textile crafts. Spinning is so basic and simple to execute, but yet has so many variations and endless possibilities. Spinning yarn makes me feel grounded and natural. Especially when I’m working with a spindle.

IMG_4423Silja: You also teach classes for different fibery things and I know you were just at ”Fiberfest i Ry” and held a class on Modular knitting there. Please tell us a little about your work with modular knitting.

Birthe: If you have ever played with Legos as a child you know what modular is all about. It’s playing with shapes, patterns, making large items from small bits. It’s the fascination of the logic in geometry. It’s also about fooling around with colours, lines and textures. There are endless possibilities. Playtime! It’s just plain fun to work with.

Silja: And speaking about the ”fiberfest”, how was it?

Birthe: I believe it was a success! A one day festival and not very big, but with a friendly atmosphere and in nice surroundings. Not very commercial, but with many local vendors, artisans and fiber crafters. The many different workshops attracted knitters and other fiber lovers from all over the nation, and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, looking at stuff, learning new tricks, meeting friends, knitting, drinking coffee and laughing a lot!

Silja: From a dyer and spinners point, is there alot of interest in handspinning in Denmark?

image_medium2Birthe: Yes, I think so. The Danish Spinning Guild “Spindeforeningen”, which was founded 6 or 7 years ago, now has somewhere between 120 and 150 members, and new spinners keep signing up. The Spinning Guild tries to establish local spinning groups around the country. After all, the best way to learn to spin is to meet up with some seasoned spinners that love to pass on all the tricks! Also, we’re having a really good time and enjoying ourselves.

Silja: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Before I let you go I have one more question. What is your favorite color and why?

Birthe: It’s hard to pick out just a single colour as my favorite, but if I have to I’d say Blue. And why? Blue is just beautiful to me, a calm and cool colour. It’s the colour of our planet, of which we have to take better care!

Spin Artiste: Thank you, Birthe and Silja so much!  It’s so wonderful to get a peak into this part of the fiber world.

Sheesh, it’s been busy in my own little universe.  Suzy Brown aka Wool Wench came to town in mid-April — it was planes, trains and automobiles for two weeks and then I rolled right into hosting the Heather Lightbody aka Girl With a Hook class in my studio and finally, a whole gang of us at my house for Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I blogged over at www.fiberygoodness.com today also about Mother’s Day.  You can read that post here

So, at last, I’m finally getting back into the swing of things!  We have a giveway winner to announce for the Spaelsau fleece that Silja posted about a couple of weeks ago about nostepinner.  And, our winner is Ellen!  Ellen, congratulations and I will be in touch to help coordinate you getting your awesome prize.

 Thanks to everyone for commenting on that post…there’s nothing like a fleece giveaway to get everyone busy with the comment button…so, how about another one?  Yes!!!! AT - Locks in shoes This time we have one pair of child sized wooden shoes filled with wool and locks from Alet Tienpont’s own sheep (Wensleydale and Gotland).  If you missed the post on Alet, you can read it here.  To enter, please “like” Alet’s shop Facebook page, Textielwerk Wol en Zo and leave a comment here.  Deadline to enter is next Sunday, May 18th, 5 PM EST.  Best of luck to all!    

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