Fanakoften

Long one of my favorite traditional Norwegian patterns is the Fanakofte. Here is a portrait of my mother wearing the Fanakofte and hat knit for her by my grandmother. This would be around 1938.

My grandmother also knit me one; it was red and white. Over the course of the last two hours I poured through a lot of photographs searching for a picture of me in my Fana sweater, but sadly, it was nowhere to be found.

As explained by Susanne Pagoldh in Nordic Knitting, Fana is the area south of Bergen. The sweater (as a pullover), was worn in the late 1870s; the cardigan version became popular around the turn of that century. Pagoldh also notes that Norwegians around the Bergan area wore the Fana sweater during the occupation by Nazi Germany (1940-45) as a national symbol of solidarity.

My grandmother also knit a red and cream Fanakofte for my daughter many years ago. My grandmother used (well, sort of), the pattern pictured to the left. It was, like many others I still have, pulled from a magazine – a “ladies magazine,” not a knitting magazine. In fact, on the reverse sides of the two pattern pages are tips for recipes and gardening.

Now I have always thought this heavily patterned sweater looks great on children and youths but not as great on adults. Perhaps it’s the horizontal stripes. Most adults – at least most female adults – tend to avoid horizontal stripes. And look closely at the picture! How many adult women want the accent the checkerboard pattern provides around their hips? And yes, these are unisex sweaters.

Of course, perhaps if all women were shaped like the woman in this photo (no, that is not me, nor is the man Thor), we’d be better with this hip-accentuating sweater pattern. 🙂

I found the original pattern my grandmother used to knit my daughter’s sweater. I ironed out the now bent and frayed edges of the pattern and scanned it in. Here it is to share with interested knitters: “Fanakoften er moderne igen” (1981). (Please remember that many people knit them as pullovers.)

I was sure I had a Fana pattern written in English, and, after some digging and moving boxes, I found it at the bottom of a stack of old knitting journals. Translated into English, it is in a Peer Gynt (Sandnes Uldvarefabrik) booklet, number 9806 and titled “Jubileumshefte [anniversary issue] 1998.” It has great photographs and instructions for both the pullover and cardigan versions of the Fana sweater.

So, am I tempted to knit one of these for myself? Perhaps if I looked like the woman to the left I would be more inclined to knit one for myself, but, alas, I don’t. My grandkids would be adorable in them, though!

What about you? Are you tempted to knit one – or have you already?!

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About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Knitting, Norwegian Knitting and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Fanakoften

  1. I have always loved the Fana pattern! >

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  2. Susan says:

    haha, never mind the way the stripes go…she is also wearing a BELT!! Sheech, how to accentuate the positive 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Fana Mitts and Breads | The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

  4. handstitch says:

    Okay then…just call me eccentric. There will be plenty for the traditionalists to be upset about…long before they will find me 😀

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  5. You mean traditional Norwegian sweaters is postmodern color combinations? We might upset a lot of traditionalists. 🙂

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  6. handstitch says:

    Not sure I would look good in hot pink in my age. Lime green is definitely a possibility. Heck, why not! Lets do it together and we will have a cyber runway show 😀

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  7. “Afraid to click” on my post? 🙂 I know the feeling … your blue sweater is now in my queue! How about the sweater in hot pink and lime green? That would make my forefathers gasp!

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  8. handstitch says:

    I am now officially afraid to click on your post, Karen. My queue is getting too full…out of control! You do know stripey sweaters is in fashion this spring and summer. You definitely need to knit one. I would not use the traditional colors however–known to be a rebel 😀 It’s nice to give it a modern twist, that’s the way I see it. Thanks again for another classic pattern, Karen.

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  9. Curls & Q says:

    Wonderful! What a fantastic book you could make weaving the two together! Awesome project!

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  10. Curls & Q says:

    Yes! I have knitted quite a few of the beaded ones too. So pretty.

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  11. Exciting news … you should twitter it … the news will definitely make the day for a LOT of women!

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  12. Writing about them makes me want to knit some … my knitting project list keep getting longer!

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  13. A couple of years ago I thought about writing a book that weaves childhood memories of my grandmother with her hand art work and her recipe book. I have her handwritten book, one that she started as a student in a husmor school in the 1920s!

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  14. Yes, they are beautiful. Have you seen the beaded ones worn in the traditional costume of Greenland? Pretty snazzy!

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  15. WOW! I did not know that. Now why don’t more people know about this?! Now I have no excuse not to knit myself one! The traditional colors are red and white or blue and white. I wonder how a pale blue and white would look? I’ve got white hair and blue eyes, so maybe I could pull it off!

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  16. Curls & Q says:

    Forgot to mention that my FAVORITE wrist warmer pattern is from Nordic Knitting. I think they are called Icelandic Wristwarmers.

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  17. Curls & Q says:

    Um, I’m don’t look like the model above – so this will be great for grandkids. I LOVE that you are writing about Norwegian knitting. You could write a book!!!

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  18. Tina says:

    What a great post! I love the design and you’ve tempted me greatly to try knitting one 🙂

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  19. I must have one! Did you know that when multiple horizontal stripes are used, the eye tends to move from stripe to stripe (rather than along the length of the stripe) actually making the object appear narrower? Yup. There’s hope for us all.

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