die Vorstricker* – traditional knitting in the Alps, reconstructed

We are happy to introduce our project die Vorstricker* a cooperation between The Craft Atlas and fashion designer Teresa Mair. Die Vorstricker* examines traditional knitting techniques and patterns from the Alps. We research and document traditional knitting techniques and patterns from the regions of Tyrol, Vorarlberg, South Tyrol and Bavaria. The findings are taken up and reinterpreted through fashion- and graphic design into a contemporary, locally manufactured collection.

The project is based on an innovative product-service concept creating regional connections while offering interested audiences input and insight into the process through co-creation workshops and open studio hours. In this way, we can simultaneously support an appreciation of regional craftsmanship and explore new creative paths. The resulting fashion collection will be based on a local value chain and the creative input, ideas and skills of participating craft-experts.

The title die Vorstricker* derives from the German words Vor (forward, ago, ahead) and Stricker (knitter), connecting traditional and historical values with future-forward thinking.

Austrian-born designer and architect Teresa Mair lives and works in Tyrol, Vienna and Helsinki. In 2017 she founded her eponymous label and studio in Innsbruck. Her Coat Couture line strives to create the unique identity and personality which increases the consciousness of value and quality in a garment.

“The costume as well as architecture illustrate ideas of space and movement — both draw from materials in 2D and together create complex three-dimensional worlds.”
— Teresa Mair

The collection and research has focused on historical textiles and textile archives. We have visited different craft museums – Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum in Innsbruck, Vorarlbergmuseum in Bregenz, Textilmuseum in St. Gallen – as well as consulting individuals, books and online platforms.

The first in a series of co-creation workshops just took place in Dietenheim, Germany. The next workshop will happen in Innsbruck on July 13, 2018. Two more will follow in the coming months. To give an insight to the process, open studio times at the Teresa Mair studio in Innsbruck will be announced as well.

More info and workshop registration by email at atelier@vorstricker.in, check out the project website for more info, studio and workshop dates.

The project will go on until the end of the year, ending with the presentation of the final collection and exhibition, in Innsbruck and online.

Die Vorstricker* is realised with the kind support of aws – Austria Wirtschaftsservice.

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The story of The Craft Atlas

The beginning of this project came when the two founders – Cecilia Palmér and Anja-Lisa Hirscher – reflected after a long upcycling workshop-day at a maker fair in Helsinki and discussed their shared experiences and visions for a more fair and sustainable way to design, produce and consume fashion. Cecilia had – in her work as a fashion designer, or while casually discovering textiles at home or while traveling – often been in the situation of finding a beautiful piece of cloth, an embroidery, an artful applique, wondering where it might be from or what it actually meant —  just to realise it would be difficult to find out without taking the object along to one, two, five experts that could tell more. The idea for a visual, interactive database, a map to discover more about those treasures and their origins, grew out of a need for those new tools. Anjas shared interest in the knowledge and skills inherited in traditional craft production was the starting point and consisting passion for further developing what was to become The Craft Atlas.

Cecilia & Anja facilitating an upcycling workshop together.

In a first ideation workshop in Berlin, we framed The Craft Atlas to become a platform offering in-depth knowledge about types of textile crafts, their origin and artisans practicing these, to enable designers incorporating this traditional craft knowledge with contemporary art and design. The idea was to promote traditional artisanal work as a form of unique design expression, both on individual and cultural level. This would bring artisanal means of small-scale production into the focus area and enhancing their unique value as not only traditional but contemporary form of design expression. In an era when the diversity and richness of aesthetics of the world has been traded in for a narrow scale of products fitting the cycle of mass-production, we wanted to explore exactly the regional differences and specialties. Focusing and highlighting the value of embedded knowledge, skills and rare techniques, and interweave this aesthetic, skill and mode of production in state-of-the-art design.

First ideation workshop held in Berlin.

We met ethnologist and jewellery designer Mima Pejoska, who brought the artistic expression through traditional crafts into our discussions. With her we considered possibilities to bring awareness to the local communities about the cultural importance of their regional crafts. She pointed out that in the traditional methods for manufacturing are usually unrepresented on the arts scene, where the focus is often on developing new techniques. Therefore, we thought, that the project could not only explore the possibilities surrounding the use of different craft techniques in different forms of expression, but it would also help revive the interest of the younger generation in preserving them, as she is doing in her work.

Another important contribution to our discussions was given by Alice Holmberg. Together we received a planning grant from Nordisk Kulturfond, to facilitate a 3-day intensive ideation workshop on Nordic crafts and local, cooperative business models for a small-scale production prototype in Denmark. We were elaborating the questions of what is the role of crafts in a pre/post industrial production? And how we, as designers can support traditional craft practitioners? We did a first field study on possible collaborators (designers and practicing artisans) to possibly in the future experiment with a local cooperative model for a small production line “Made in Denmark” to be showcased as a project on The Craft Atlas page.

Impressions from the 3-day workshop in Denmark:

With the very valuable input of all this creative people we are happy to launch a first version of The Craft Atlas today. This platform is open for contribution, adaption and iteration over time, by us and by others interested in design, crafts, and cultural heritage, to grow organically. We are thus happy and looking forward to your feedback, ideas and writings on crafts, artisans or project journals you feel should be added here.

Looking forward to your comments!

Cecilia & Anja

Ulm, Germany, June 2017