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My Oulu: The trendy knitting hobby soothes even those busy with meetings

20.3.2022

Director of Healthcare and Social Welfare Kirsti Ylitalo-Katajisto used to earn money for sweets by doing handicraft when she was little. Anna Karjala, legal counsellor at the City of Oulu, takes time for herself during her children's hobbies by knitting. She urges everyone to try this hobby that nurtures creativity: if something goes wrong, it can always be unstitched.

Director of Healthcare and Social Welfare Kirsti Ylitalo-Katajisto and legal counsellor Anna Karjala are knitting officials at the City of Oulu. Both regarded handicraft as their favourite subject at school.

Karjala describes handicraft classes as the highlights of the week.

“I had a break for a few years from handicraft because I lived a busy family life with young children. A few years ago, I got excited about handicraft again. When I spend a lot of time at my children's sports activities, I take time for myself and knit,” Karjala says.

Assistant teacher of handicrafts at school

Ylitalo-Katajisto got re-acquainted with her old love a year ago.

“My sister reminded me that I used to be good at making sweaters. So, I bought Icelandic knit yarn and now I have made 32 sweaters in a year.”

When Ylitalo-Katajisto was five years old, her grandmother taught her how to weave and crochet.

“I started by crocheting potholders. I guess I sold them for one mark a piece to get some money for sweets. I taught others to crochet and weave during handicraft lessons at school,” Ylitalo-Katajisto recalls.

Since then, she has knitted almost everything possible for her children and grandchildren, such as a baby’s christening gown.

Colours according to personality

Karjala thinks knitting is the best form of mindfulness for reducing your heart rate.

"Even if the yarn gets tangled, your thoughts become clearer."

Ylitalo-Katajisto reminds that knitting is mathematics: calculating, measuring, and logical thinking.

"And even if I make my Icelandic knits by following instructions, for example, my own knittings are always modified versions of the pattern. Knitting strengthens creative thinking. What is needed in management is the same as in knitting: you have to imagine what is happening in advance.”

It is important for both ladies not only to strike a balance between administrative work and online meetings, but also to take advantage of creativity.

“I like colours and think about the colour combinations – what kind of colours suit a certain personality. It feels good when the recipient of a sweater is charmed and asks me to make another one,” Ylitalo-Katajisto says.

Wintery work

Both knitting enthusiasts have abandoned reading as a hobby, but Karjala listens to audiobooks while knitting. Neither of the women travel by train or car without their knitting needles.

In addition to socks and hats, Karjala has knitted six sweaters in a few months. Something else is up next.

You can start with a beanie – it’s easy.

Karjala strongly urges anyone to try knitting, even if one’s skills were poor at school and the experiences from those days were lousy.

“You can start with a beanie – it’s easy. If you make a mistake, as often happens when knitting while watching TV, you can always unstitch and start over. You never get it right straightaway. Besides, there is an instructive video for everything nowadays.”

However, knitting is a seasonal pastime.

"I get a terrible craving for knitting in the autumn. That is also a signal that winter is coming," Karjala points out.

“I, too, have noticed that the urge is fading now that spring is here,” Ylitalo-Katajisto adds.

She also remembers a similar sweater-knitting boom occurring in the early 1990s. 

 

Kaksi naista islantilaisvillapuserot päällä. Taustalla oranssi seinä.
The colours of Kirsti Ylitalo-Katajisto and Anna Karjala's Icelandic sweaters signal spring. Photo: Sanna Krook

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