The Faroese towns and villages lie like dots of colour in an expanse of green, and when the sun begins to shine, maybe after a long period of mist and rain, it is as if this is a cause of celebration and suddenly there is real festivity in the world.

Something similar pertains to clothes; When there are celebrations and parties the colours come out. In recent years it has become more and more usual for the young to acquire the traditional Faroese festival clothes, and graduation photographs are no longer taken without most – especially the girls – being clad in national costume, with their own individual versions.

Wool has been restored to favour. As the country’s own name indicates, sheep have been a decisive part of the basis of life on the islands and a couple of hundred years ago wool was of the same importance for the country’s export, percent wise, as fish is today. ‘Wool is Faroes’ gold’, people used to say in the old days. But then the world’s many new and cheaper textiles began streaming in, and for many years wool was considered more of a burden than a benefit.

However, work was done to preserve the knowledge of the traditional handicraft. Faroese wool’s special secret compared to other wool is its natural content of lanolin, making it waterrepellent, and the wool’s mixture of coarser and finer fibers gives it a unique insulation against heat and cold. It is responsible and demanding work to treat wool in the right way, to wash and clean it and to sort out the right nuances and qualities, and to spin by hand or on a spinning wheel.

It was generally the work of the man to spin on the spinning wheel, and even though it was not unusual for men to be able to knit, the entire production from yarn to clothes was the women’s responsibility. It is to the women’s credit that a whole new creative activity rooted in old experiences has occurred in recent years, a remarkable development from a preservation effort.

A wealth of combinations has developed with blends of knitted and woven products often fulled and matted, so the cloth is waterproof and windproof, sometimes with insertions of leather or even modern substances and materials.

But what has been decisive is that a whole generation of welleducated Faroese designers has come forward and proceeded to experiment in earnest. They know their local conditions and are familiar with the large wealth of old patterns, where you can see that knitting wasn’t just a handicraft, but a work of art, where you exerted yourself to make the material more beautiful than it needed to be. But they are not bound by tradition and closely follow what is happening in the outside world. And as something new, they seriously began to market their creations. Faroese clothes designs are included in exhibitions in other countries, and samples have reached as far as New York and Tokyo.