Explorers of sustainability: when Finnish grannies knit

Explorers of sustainability: when Finnish grannies knit

Contemporary fashion combined with traditional methods, sustainability, raw materials from nearby farms and a strong community. Welcome to Myssyfarmi, a second home for knitting grannies in the picturesque region of Pöytyä in southwest Finland.

30. 11. 2023 Škoda World

Myssyfarmi is mainly known for its funky woollen hats called Myssy. Each one is hand-knitted by local grannies. “It’s no surprise that at Myssyfarmi we take pride in our products, which are anything but ordinary,” says Anna Rauhansuu, the woman behind the project.

A stubborn husband

The first Myssy hat was created by Janne, Anna’s husband and a former professional windsurfer. If you’re stubborn like him and want a hat exactly like a friend of yours has, you’ll eventually learn to knit. And though you don’t realise it at the time, you could be laying the foundations of a unique company that is more than just a clothing manufacturer.

Myssy pays homage to the countryside and sustainability.

After he returned home from his travels around the world, Janne met the love of his life, designer Anna. The couple had a desire to make something together, something that would stand out from the fashion mainstream. The couple relocated to the farm that had belonged to Janne’s ancestors and began working on a brand that would pay homage to the countryside and sustainable living. But where could they get the right material? And how would they go about making things?

Anna Rauhansuu

The creative director of Myssyfarmi, Anna is not only a designer but also a custodian of Finnish farming traditions. After a career in advertising, she returned to her hometown of Pöytyä to combine urban sensibilities with rural craftsmanship. She is the fourth generation of her family to be involved in the local women’s farming association, Pöytyän Maatalousnaiset. Driven by her love of rural life and nature, her designs celebrate the contrast between the urban and rural worlds. She is a leader whose ambitions go beyond mere business. Her work pays homage to her heritage while paving the way for sustainable business in Finland and beyond.


Škodas: tried-and-tested partners

The Finnish countryside is vast, so it’s no surprise that most of these women travel by car between their homes and the somewhat remote Myssy headquarters. For example, there is only one bus service from Turku, some 45 kilometres away, with only three buses a day. That makes driving pretty much a necessity. But car sharing is popular, with the women taking turns to drive. And many of the four-wheeled partners the grandmothers rely on are Škodas.

SKODA-EOS-FINLAND-BLANCHARD-5276_863cb6f3The Finnish countryside goes on forever, making a car a necessity.

Each of the ladies is free to work at her own pace and in her own style. The work is an opportunity to experience something new or make unexpected friendships. For some, the money earned from working at Myssy even opened the door to a first-ever holiday abroad. “Knitting with us is not just a craft: it’s an opportunity, a new chapter in life, a new big family,” Anna explains. There are currently almost a hundred women working at Myssyfarmi, and interest is still growing. More and more are adding their names to the waiting list, keen to become part of this growing dynamic community.

SKODA-EOS-FINLAND-BLANCHARD-5783_0d5a3de0The Myssy farm gives work to around a hundred local knitters.

Today, their creations can be bought in sixteen countries, from little boutiques to more upscale department stores. But the essence of each Myssy hat remains unchanged – each one is carefully knitted by a local grandmother from the finest Finnish sheep’s wool. “And even though Pöytyä may not be a fashion capital, even Parisians seem to have taken a liking to our hats,” Anna adds, her eyes shining with pride. “Maybe it’s because Myssy clearly sets you apart in a world where blending in has become the norm.”

Finnish wool: when luxury meets sustainability

When it comes to wool, Merino is probably the most well-known and sought-after in the world for its distinctive softness, but the wool of the traditional Finnish breed of sheep has similar qualities. It may come as a surprise to many that over sixty per cent of Finnish wool is burnt as waste. Paradoxically, wool is often a by-product in Europe, as sheep are often bred not for wool but for other purposes. Myssyfarmi aims to change this by offering sheep farmers fair prices, thereby supporting the domestic wool market.

SKODA-EOS-FINLAND-BLANCHARD-6576_0dc765c2Supporting the local wool market is an essential aspect of sustainability.

The wool is spun in several local spinning mills and then hand-dyed on the Myssy farm. This gives the yarn vibrant colours while retaining the lanolin, a natural fat that gives the products their resistance to dirt and water.

SKODA-EOS-FINLAND-BLANCHARD-7441_10872907The wool is hand-dyed on the farm.

Everything hand-stitched

No production lines, no factories or sweatshops. Besides the yarn, it is the retired local women’s decades of wisdom and experience that are the real heart of the company. And they all work in the comfort of their own homes. “We knew we needed help. And in the countryside you naturally turn to your neighbours,” Anna says, looking back at the early days. The neighbouring farm had an abundance of Finnish wool, and the local grandmothers, with their lifetime of knitting experience, were a godsend. “Every product bears the signature of the lady who knitted it. It’s a nice personal touch that is increasingly rare in today’s world of mass production,” Anna says.

SKODA-EOS-FINLAND-BLANCHARD-6105_e4572dcdRegular get-togethers and meetings that celebrate the community.

Once a month there is a fun and noisy gathering of “Pöytyä talents”: the Myssyfarmi knitting circle. Over coffee, cinnamon pastries and a bit of gossip, the grannies swap tips on all sorts of techniques for their work and learn about new trends and collections. “It’s not just a production meeting, it’s a gathering of friends, a celebration of community,” Anna remarks.

Explorers of Sustainability

Short films about sustainability, connecting with nature, living in harmony with the world around us, not destroying the environment and taking only as much from it as we need. This documentary series showcases interesting and inspiring people, their imaginative projects and their unconventional and humble approach to life. As they all live and work in today’s modern world, it goes without saying that the documentaries also show the connection between the issue of sustainability and the current automotive world. The people showcased in the films have rugged and sustainable partners – cars with a winged arrow in their emblem.