Tommy Kochel's knitting highlighted in the Lancaster Newspaper
In addition to his roles in The Knotwork Band, local artisan, Tommy Kochel, makes Norwegian (Fair Isle) sweaters of the highest quality. Tommy first learned to knit while living in Germany for a year of college study. He saw Germans knitting in his classes and was fascinated by the ability to take what was essentially a two-dimensional object (the yarn) and turn it into a three dimensional one (the socks, scarves, and sweaters which were being created around him). Tommy then honed his craft with the help of a California friend while both were living in Norway. He has been knitting fine work for 30 years.
Interest in purchasing one of these heirloom garments should be directed to Tommy at: email@example.com
Unlike factory-knit sweaters, Tommy’s work is given extra time and attention to detail for the creation of a garment that will last MANY years into the future. These vests are knit Norwegian style - in the round, with several extra “steek” stitches where the arm holes will be and where the front will be opened. Then two rows of very strong locking stitches are sewn with a sewing machine parallel to each other in the steek. The work is then carefully cut open between the rows of locking stitches. Thereafter, a hem is knit for double thickness at the bottom, a 3-stitch tube is knit as a finish edge around each arm hole and all along the open front from the hem to the neck and back down the other side. The work is then hand washed and dried. The steek portions are carefully hand basted down and the finish edge sharpened with some additional stitching, as needed. Finally, seven pairs of ornate pewter clasps are hand sewn onto the front.
The process of making a knit sweater in a factory almost always results in some very long (5 or more stitch-widths in length) threads of yarn on the back side, just waiting to be snagged on whatever buttons might be on the blouse underneath. Tommy goes to great length to weave those long threads into his work as he goes, ensuring that no long yarn threads remain to get easily snagged or otherwise pulled. This extra care in crafting also results in the sweater thickness being an extra spongy pile of soft yarn.
The yarn for most of his sweaters is 100% new wool from Dale of Norway. It is called "Dale Falk," it is very soft, and it is made to be less irritating for those with adverse reactions to wool. "Super wash" is also on the label - they intend for sweaters made with Falk yarn to be machine washable. HOWEVER, since this is handmade, uses a Steek system for its creation, and has pewter clasps on it, it is HIGHLY recommend that this garment be washed by HAND instead (see below). Any clasps (as in this vest) or buttons (on some other sweaters he makes) are likewise from Norway and made of pewter. Each of these sweater vests costs approximately $125.00 in materials and takes approximately 30 hours of time to create.
A listing of sweaters available for purchase will appear on this page as they are completed.
Also included in your purchase is a set of five yards of each of the colors of yarn used in your vest. These come from the same skeins used to create the vest. This is important because yarns of the same color but from a different dye lot can have a markedly different appearance. These are included just in case you run into any repair needs in the future. Any local yarn and knitting shop would be able to help out with any needed repair. However, with normal daily use, you should encounter no such need.
Harald Hougaard of Moss, Norway is a recent recipient of one of Tommy’s sweaters and commented:
“Wow! Whooohaaaaouww! What a great surprise in the post - the sweater looks just marvellous, superb quality - and a great smile from my girlfriend Anne Kristin. A great thank from us in Moss.”
1) Very important to note, do NOT wash with “Woolite.” Never wash ANY wool with Woolite. This product simply makes yarn fibers separate with repeated washings and will result in your garment disintegrating. Simply wash gently by hand in water with a little natural plant-based detergent. Rinse using plain water until there is no more soap. Gently wring out to the best of your ability. Lay the vest on a towel, closing all seven clasps and adjusting the vest to look properly aligned. Lay another towel over this, and then roll both towels and the sweater into a “log.” After about an hour, roll this log over onto was had been the top and wait another hour. Then lay the vest, squarely aligned, upon a new dry towel and dry flat overnight or slightly longer. Flipping the sweater onto it’s front, back side up, the next morning can speed the drying process. Do NOT hang to dry.
2) Alternately, you could have the piece dry cleaned; however, it is best to first point out that this is 100% pure natural fiber wool and to inquire as to the potential effects of the chemicals they would use.
Luthier Harald Hougaard of Moss, Norway, sporting Tommy's muted take on the 1990 Dale Skipool (Olympic ski team) sweater.