True colours Wearable art from Lulu Kaalund

Danish chef-turned-crochet designer Lulu Kaalund on creative re-routing


‘Copenhagen is so small and everybody knows everybody,’ says crochet designer Lulu Kaalund. Like the Danish capital, where cultural discipline­s such as food, fashion, art, design and music cross-pollinate, Kaalund herself is a creative polymath.

Crochet is the second career she never envisaged. After four years’ training at culinary school in Denmark, she landed her dream job at restaurant Relae (a regular on the world’s top restaurant lists until its closure last year). Then, five years ago, Kaalund had an accident that left her with severe concussion and unable to continue working as a chef. A friend taught her to crochet while she was recovering.

One of her first self-initiated projects was a baby blanket for friends, the model Emma Rosenzweig (formerly Leth) and artist Tal R. They loved her gift and encouraged her to continue. ‘Then it happened immediatel­y,’ she says of her profession­al metamorpho­sis. Three years ago, she started creating art pieces and wall hangings, as well as unique sweaters, tunics and dresses.

Kaalund uses a single needle to crochet. ‘Everything must be done by hand. You can’t send crochet to a factory and get it massproduc­ed,’ she says. ‘It’s almost impossible to produce on a large scale.’ It takes around 25 hours to complete one of her jumpers. She prefers yarn that is typically 80 per cent wool (she has qualms about the ethics of cotton farming) and most often uses a 4.5 needle – meaning one line of stitch will be 4.5mm wide. ‘I made one art piece that was really big using a 2.5 needle, and it took more than 300 hours to make. It’s very difficult and you get lots of hand cramps as the stitches are so small.’ She works freehand without planning, letting the yarn guide her painterly designs. ‘Sometimes a jumper will end up as a wall hanging,’ she admits.

Her work has featured at Copenhagen’s V1 Gallery, where she is set to have a solo exhibition in late 2021. ‘Lulu has an extraordin­arily well-developed sense for organic compositio­n and colour work,’ says V1 co-founder and director, Jesper Elg. ‘Her intuitive approach is rare and admirable.

She creates subtle and strong original works that vibrate between painting and sculpture, whether they are mounted on the wall, lying on the floor or wrapped around a body.’

Kaalund has also been sought out by several Danish fashion brands: she crocheted hats from deadstock yarns for Ganni’s A/W20 show (and also made a one-off showpiece dress), and a sweater for Soulland. Upcoming are a capsule collection of playful crochet beachwear designed with Sian Swimwear, to launch this spring, and pieces for avant-garde designer Anne Sofie Madsen.

The new culture of remote working suits Kaalund: ‘I’ve had several studios, but I never used them. I always work in my bed or on my sofa. I can work anywhere! On the bus, or in a car, or eating in a restaurant.’

Although she has a waiting list for her crochet designs, she admits she doesn’t take specific orders, preferring simply to make what inspires her. So how to request one of her unique creations? ‘People can DM on Instagram,’ she says breezily.∂ @lulukaalun­d2; v1gallery.com

 ??  ?? Lulu Kaalund, in her own hand-crocheted designs, with some of her wall hangings at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen
Lulu Kaalund, in her own hand-crocheted designs, with some of her wall hangings at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen
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