Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes: Sweater Stories

Sweaters are a huge deal to us at Hanna. They're one of our specialties and we take a great amount of care each season to craft up original knits of the highest quality for the entire family. Read below for a Q&A with two of our designers on their seasonal sweater-spiration and what makes Hanna sweaters so special.

Presenting...

hanna-andersson-behind-the-scenes-sweater-stories1

How long have each of you been designing at Hanna?

Shelley: "9 1/2 years!"

Anna: "A week and 1/2 shy of a year."

Where did you get your inspiration for this season?

Shelley: "Hanna Andersson has an extensive sweater yarn, stitch and pattern library. We have many books that are a wonderful resource for Scandinavian/Nordic sweater patterns. Last year we went to The Nordic Heritage Museum and were quite inspired."
 
Anna: "We started pulling inspirations from the Hanna Andersson pattern library, vintage stitch patterns and various stitch books. I also like looking to street style blogs to see what people are wearing, especially colors and textures! Some of my favorites are: Stockholm Street Style, The Sartorialist, Facehunter."

1950's Icelandic schoolchildren via Journal of Style

1950's Icelandic schoolchildren via Journal of Style

What is some of the history behind Nordic sweaters?

Shelley: "I have found that Nordic sweater patterns are knitted stories. They can tell someone what area a sweater is from and that the person who made it lives and works in a very cold climate. These sweaters protected the wearer from the elements and made he or she very visible while fishing, or herding. Many patterns represent snowflakes, stars, etc. Just images of northern life. Countries like Sweden are enveloped in darkness during the Winter. This allows people indoors to have longer spans of hard crafting time: Woodworking, sweater knitting, and decorative painting are very detailed and exquisite in this northern culture."

What are the steps that go in to designing a sweater pattern? Where is the jumping off point?

Shelley: "Usually we start with a sample from our sweater design library. We think about how to adapt the patterns for girls, a boy, baby and even adults. Color is also determined at this point. Really, anything can inspire us: Landscapes, paintings, the sweater samples themselves. Then it's time to start to work up the sweater graph on the computer!"

Anna: "Balance between the yarns and design inspiration are key when starting, as the yarn can be a guide through the design process. There are ideal gauges (fine vs. chunky) and stitches/pattern for most yarns depending on the size, colors, textures, content of the yarn. Choosing the yarn to create the patterning from an art perspective is very important, but also just as important is the feel and quality that is provided to our customers in the end."

Shelly at her sunlight filled desk

Shelly at her sunlight filled desk

Anna matching samples (i.e. glamorous floor work)

Anna matching samples (i.e. glamorous floor work)

Holiday '14 sweater samples

Holiday '14 sweater samples

What makes these Hanna sweaters so unique? What kind of yarns do you use?

Shelley: "Hanna Andersson has dedication to quality, patterns that are unique and Swedish/Scandinavian inspired, and unexpected touches like pops of fun color, or modern twists. We use a lot of cotton and wool blends. We want a  soft premium hand and warm look!"

Anna: "Hanna’s commitment to ultra soft cotton yarns is really unique! Almost all the sweaters are 100% cotton just like our iconic sleepwear. Even the newer yarns that we used this season that are not 100% cotton, are cotton rich and crazy soft!"

Detail shot of stitch-work

Detail shot of stitch-work

Norse Star Pattern

Norse Star Pattern

Yarns To Tell pattern

Yarns To Tell pattern

What’s your favorite pattern of the season? How many patterns do you do a season?

Shelley: "One of my favorite collections is called 'Yarn to Tell.' It's the perfect blending of some traditional Nordic patterning but with fun, unexpected pops of color for every sweater. They’re beautiful!"

Anna: "So hard too choose! It is a toss up between 'Yarns to Tell' and 'Norse Star.' 'Yarns to Tell' has a very cozy lofty yarn and fun bold patterns, while 'Norse Star' uses classic sweater motifs, touches of stripes, in rich colors, making it timeless.  As for the number of patterns we do it is hard to say. We work all the patterns up in house stitch by stitch, refining them along the way till they all work together just like a family. They are all from the same thread but are totally individual."

Are your sweater designs a more classic or modern interpretation of Nordic style?

Shelley: "We love both! We will always have a Scandinavian/Nordic influence but we also want have modern interpretations too."
 
Anna: "Definitely a blend! We look to the brands Swedish roots as a jumping off point with most things we do, but always acknowledging and embracing today."

What’s the most challenging part of designing a great sweater pattern?

Shelley: "Getting the correct yarn size, the right balance of patterning and making sure it can technically be created for our customers."

Anna: "Shelly hit the nail on the head!"

What are some special design details you’d like to highlight for this season's crop?

Shelley: "We added some yarn blends to add a softer lighter feel to some sweaters. We’re coming out with some very rich and unique color/pattern stories that nod to our Scandinavian heritage and added luxe, modern touches. Our sweater collections have been designed for a variety of occasions: family events, picture-taking or relaxing at home; they can easily be dressed up or dressed down."

Anna: "Agreed! The super soft yarns and original patterns in the easy silhouettes are the key elements that make these sweaters great."

Some pretty pretty yarn

Some pretty pretty yarn