Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk is a family owned mill founded in 1898. It has been in the same family for 4 generations and is one of Norway’s most long-established yarn producers. The historic mill is now a working museum, part of the European Économusée network, an organisation which aims to preserve and showcase traditional crafts and knowhow – some of the machines still in use at the mill are over 100 years old.
The mill itself is not on an island, however it lies on the shores of the Oster fjord, just 35km north of Bergen, on the edge of the Bergen archipelago and several of the farms which provide wool for Hillesvåg’s yarns are situated on the islands.
The Norsk Pellsullgarn ranges which we will be stocking at Laine des Iles are spun from the fleeces of the Norwegian pelssau breed. This is a cross between the Gotland sheep (which originates from the Swedish island of Gotland) and the Norwegian heritage breed Spælsau. The Spælsau breed in turn is a descendant of the Old Norwegian Gammel Norsk Spælsau - this ancient breed is the sheep which the Norsemen carried with them when they travelled across Northern Europe and is the ancestor of several of our modern island breeds, including the Icelandic, Faroese and in part also the Shetland and other Scottish breeds. As Norway and its sheep are the common link between so many of these islands, we feel that it is only right that this beautiful country and its yarns are represented in our shop.
The Norsk Pelsullgarn is a longwool, very similar to pure Gotland and with the same natural grey shade, but with a little more lustre. Dyeing the grey fibre produces a beautiful palette of rich colours. It is equally beautiful in colourwork and textured patterns.
There are three yarns in this range, and we will be starting with Solje, the finest weight, which is a heavy fingering/4ply to sport weight. We will follow this up later in the year with Tinde which equates roughly to a double knitting weight. The final weight, Blåne, is a chunky, and we hope to add this to the range next year. All three yarns are 2 ply (2 brins tordu ensemble).
As the fibre used in these yarns is naturally grey, there is no white in these ranges. So, as white is useful for colourwork, we will also be including naturally white lambswool from Hillesvåg: Vilje combines well with Sølje and Sol with Tinde.
At the moment, most of the patterns for these yarns are available only in Norwegian. There are currently none in French, but there are several in English. One designer who works frequently with Hillesvåg yarns is Norwegian designer Linda Marveng.
Devona by Linda Marveng, knitted in Solje
Born in Norway, she moved to the UK and married an Englishman. She worked for Rowan yarns and then for several years running workshops for famous London knitting shop Loop. She is now living again in Norway, designing knitwear, and specialises particularly in textured and cabled patterns.
Cahal by Linda Marveng, knitted in Tinde
If you are looking for a pattern specifically for these yarns and are able to read English patterns, then Linda’s beautiful patterns are available on Ravelry. If however you need a French pattern, then keep an eye on the website later this year – we have an exclusive design by a French designer on the way - watch this space!