To be able to create something from fiber, clay or wood has always fascinated me. It started as a 3-4-year-old in Norway, when I saw my mother spinning a thread and then knitting a sweater from it. I was totally in awe and amazed that you could do that! The wonder has lived in me ever since. She showed me how to crochet and then how to knit. How to hold the needles and do the stitches. After that I was on my own. I was knitting all day, every day for my dolls, until I had to start 1st grade. I guess my bedroom was my first studio and my nine dolls were my first customers.
For the last 40 years I have been knitting and weaving for my customers in Gualala. It is just wonderful; but time consuming. When I first came to Gualala in 1976, I had a six year old son to support, so Roberta Rude and I started a yarn store in Anchor Bay called Earth Fibres. We sat there with a wonderful supply of yarn, and then found out there were only a handful of people in the area that could knit. So we started knitting and spinning classes. We were both new to the area, but this way we became local really fast . We had the most loyal customers. We were there for seven years. I later opened Malene Designs, selling my sweaters. Knitting is, as said before, real time consuming. In order to produce enough inventory, I tried for five years to train knitters in Norway to knit my patterns. But I realized it is the creative process I love. So that was that…. It has to go through my hands.
Twenty years ago I did move back to Norway for 14 years, but I am now back here for good. While in Norway I would fly over to Gualala to open a store every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and then go back to Norway in the spring to continue creating. My weaving loom is still in Norway, but I will bring it over now that I’m in my new house and studio.
I did create a few knitting booklets and sold Yarn Kits over the Internet. In 1993, I made a knitting Video, now available on DVD. I plan to do some more of that in the future. I have also been making a living as a potter for 15 years. I do high fire reduction gas firing using my own glazes that I’ve developed. I hope to do that again here in Gualala.
My latest love is Nano felting. It is spontaneous and really fun. Before I came to America, I went to weaving school in Norway after college. I truly loved it. After that I went to Fine Embroidery and Lace making school in Copenhagen. My favorite is “Bobbin-Lace making” which is really neat.
I make my garments mostly in Norwegian Spelsau wool. It is a long fiber wool that will hold its shape. It is light and comfortably warm. It holds its colors for a lifetime of use and likes to be hand washed. I also make garments out of cotton and Donegal Irish tweed and Harrisville tweed. Hand knitting is my favorite, but lately I also incorporate a knitting loom with it. I create as I go. That’s the excitement……to see what it will look like. It never is just what I want, so I have to try again and again and again…….