A 39-Year Old Norwegian Cardigan

 This is the back of a cardigan my grandmother knit for my 16th birthday.  It is 100% wool and buttons up with old pewter buttons.

I loved it and wore it regularly all through high school.  (As I was living in California, I guarantee you I was the only one in my school with a sweater like that!)

Today my daughter put it on, and she commented, “Wow, this is itchy wool!  But then I guess it is made to be worn as a jacket.”  Oh yes indeed.  Firmly knit, it is not only warm but blocks wind well too.

Later on today I decided to sort some of my extensive yarn stash into projects.  I came across a large amount of Rauma’s “Fin Ull Garn” in two colors: grey and white.  Ah hah!  A ready made project: recreate this sweater for one of the grandchildren.  So I opened Excel and graphed the pattern.  Here is a copy of it for anyone who might be interested in PDF.

As I dug through my stash, I realized I remembered where I bought each skein, cone, hank or ball of yarn!  Please tell me I’m not the only one who can remember that but can forget birthdays and other events!

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About sweatyknitter

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

47 Responses to A 39-Year Old Norwegian Cardigan

  1. rolf says:

    Did you receive any mail from me ?

    Like

  2. rolf says:

    Hello !
    I have news for you..

    Like

  3. I never heard this before! Thank you for sharing. I definitely try it (though where we live we get only a few nights a year where the temp drops below freezing).

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  4. Marga says:

    Hi, the best remedy for itching garments is to put them in the freezer for a day or two?(or outside overnight when it is freezing) aproces you repeat after washing.

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  5. rolf says:

    Okay , The pattern s name gone be my job to find out.
    If you have some problem to translate your mormors dialect may be I can help with some of the words ? My mail :rolf-terje59@live.no
    Please just contact me on this e-mail
    Rolf

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  6. No, I don’t know the pattern’s name, and yes I am happy to send you more pictures. I won’t be able to get to it for at least a week … I’ve got an app coming out (for knitters & crocheters – in iPhone/iPad) and now am working to put it into Droid. But I will take some more pictures of the sweater soon. I am SO glad I don’t have to write it in Norwegian. I read Norwegian patterns all the time, but writing them in Norwegian takes me MUCH longer than writing them in English. 🙂 I have my mormors handwritten cookbook from husmorskolen from 1928 and I started translating it some time ago but between her use of dialect spellings, old terms and old-style handwriting …

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  7. rolf says:

    Thanks,
    Yes English is fine.
    Do you know the name of the pattern ?
    Possible to ask for some more picture ? (if you have time for me of course)
    Rolf

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  8. I will find the sketch and send you the pattern in a graph and basic instructions as well. Is English fine with you? It takes me longer when I write in Norwegian. 🙂

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  9. rolf says:

    Hello Karen,
    Mormor yes she was clever to choose nice pattern too.
    I remember that one from the time I was a teenager.
    Yes I like to have the pattern If is possible.
    If I find someone to knit this winter I like to have same color as you have.

    Like

  10. Yes, it is a gorgeous pattern. (Mormor was an amazing knitter.). I graphed the pattern should anyone want to make it. If you’re a knitter, the sweater itself is not a difficult construction.

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  11. rolf says:

    This sweater you have is gorgeous YES ! Have seen this pattern before but can`t remember where ?
    I wish I have same.
    Regards from rolf

    Like

  12. Yes, my mormor (grandmother) was a knitter extraordinaire. One day my granddaughter will be wearing it! 🙂

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  13. The sweater is gorgeous! I think it’s awesome that you’ve held onto it!

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  14. Julia says:

    That’s a lovely piece of work!

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  15. Yes, my grandmother did amazing work. I still wear it (though the arms are too short). I think I will knit a pair of long black gloves to wear with that sweater. 🙂

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  16. Magnificent sweater!

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  17. I guess childhood memories are deep … especially, for people like us, who notice textiles – even if they are flour sacks!

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  18. Hanne says:

    I think you are right about Smart, and all the other super wash/machine washable yarns. When you just look at Smart and Peer Gynt, they look almost identical, but when you touch them, you can feel the difference. Smart is softer, and I think that is another reason why it wears faster, because I have a similar experience with Heilo, which at least didn’t use to be machine washable, but still is softer than Peer Gynt. And truth be told, I machine wash items made with Peer Gynt… Using cold water, delicate cycle, short spin, and Wool Light, it works just fine.

    Weaving in the mountains…. that sounds like a sweet, romantic dream 🙂 I have brought small knitting projects when I have been out hiking and worked on them while sitting down in the sun 🙂

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  19. I don’t remember where I got each cone or skein of weaving yarn, because I bought most of it at cheap mill-end sales – but my friend and I were at an exhibit of flour sack textiles, and we remembered lots of those patterns. “My grandmother had this in an apron,” “They’ve reprinted this as a scrapbook paper,” etc. It was amazing how quickly we recognized whether we had seen a fabric before or not.

    Like

  20. Thanks for your comment and for reading my blog! I have a hunch that Smart is not wearing up as well as Peer Gynt because Smart is machine washable. Machine washable yarn has gone through extra processing to descale the wool which will make it more prone to wear and tear.

    On one of my summer trips to Norway to stay with my grandmother, I actually brought a backstrap loom. I was going to be there for several months and had this vision of climbing into the mountains and weaving. 🙂

    Like

  21. Hanne says:

    The sweater is gorgeous! I don’t know this particular pattern, but I would not be surprised if it is one that has been made for generations. Did you know that the Norwegian name for these cardigans is “kofte”? Typically they will have either pewter buttons, or beautiful, traditionally embroidered ribbons around the neck and down the front (you can buy them by the meter/yard, and instead of buttons, you use pewter hooks.

    You can buy Norwegian yarn online – Rauma Fin Ull – Rauma being the manufacturer and fin ull meaning fine wool is good for these projects. Heilo from Dale of Norway has earned a good reputation among a lot of knitters. Personally, I prefer Peer Gynt from Sandnes Uldvare fabrikk. Not sure if you get that online. There is a super wash version of Peer Gynt called Smart that is really good too, but for some reason, the regular wool yarn that is not super wash seems to hold up a lot better through the years of wash and use. The Norwegian, traditional sweaters are made using yarn that is about Sports Weight. Since the kids today seem to think that all wool is itchy, I have made a few of the traditional sweaters using a soft acrylic yarn. Of course they don’t last as long as they do when you use high quality wool, but for kids it works out good, and since I live in Arizona, heavy wool sweaters are not exactly what we use the most 🙂

    I moved to the US from Norway 14 years ago, and what did I bring? My yarn winder, and a huge bag of wool yarn 🙂 And yes, I remember where I bought almost every skein of yarn I have. Remembering other things like birthdays? Nah… Facebook does a good job of reminding me of those 🙂

    Like

  22. I get gifts of luxurious yarns from my sweetie too! Right now I am working on a large lace scarf out of a beautiful raspberry colored Silk Cloud by Shibui (60% kid mohair, 40% silk, 330 y/25 g). Have you thought about a skirt from the linen/cotton blend? That would be a nice addition to the wardrobe!

    Like

  23. Would you believe that I – raised in California – have never been to San Diego?! Nice to know it’s got a good yarn shop though. Now I just have to convince Thor we need to go to San Diego to visit Black Sheep. 🙂

    Like

  24. Curls & Q says:

    Next time you’re in San Diego, pay a visit to the Black Sheep in Encinitas. One of our oldest yarn shops! Really fun stuff! 😎

    Like

  25. I get gifts of luxurious yarns from my sweetie too! Right now I am working on a large lace scarf out of a beautiful raspberry colored Silk Cloud by Shibui (60% kid mohair, 40% silk, 330 y/25 g). Have you thought about a skirt from the linen/cotton blend? That would be a nice addition to the wardrobe!

    Like

  26. Socioknit says:

    That is one beautiful sweater; great fair isle! I have to admit, when I get a new yarn, I tend to remember…but I have actually forgotten (temporarily) my anniversary! My husband Al often goes to nice yarn shops when he travels on business and, since he actually pays attention to my knitting and learns(!), he picks out some wonderful fibers for me. Recently, we vacationed in San Diego and we stopped in at Two Sisters & Ewe, where I found some of the most wonderful, drool-worthy Araucania linen and cotton blend skeins…I still am searching for the perfect project for them, but lately I have been thinking they may end up in a weaving. They have an innovative texture which would suit weaving better, I think. 😀 These love-struck moments I have with fiber tends to imprint itself in my mind, making them and their discovery rather unforgettable.

    Like

  27. Yup, without cel phones we have no excuse to forget birthdays! 🙂 And I too have mystery yarns! 🙂

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  28. katzendog says:

    I”ve been working in my stash/queue for a couple of days and no I don’t remember where I bought each and every skein. Not only that but I have “mystery” yarn that has no ball band so I don’t know what brand or colorway it is. Only reason I can remember birthdays is I get reminders on my phone.

    Like

  29. Cheryl Marie says:

    I find myself in a similar situation – but I obviously have more knitting time available to me. Knitting has always been a source of stress-relief but I’m also finding myself drawn to make as many things as I can – I can’t seem to stop 🙂
    Best wishes to you in your up and coming business! Let me know if it’s a business that I can patronize in the future.

    Like

  30. Yes – worn as a jacket. Too many people try one over a tank top and think “ugh, it’s itchy!” Ahhh, but oh those wonderful properties of the itchy wool! 🙂

    Like

  31. Curiously, I am working on a post about pilling. It came to mind, actually, when I looked at this sweater and two other projects I knit (discussed next post). The pilling post should be ready in a few days.

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  32. Curls & Q says:

    Ah, for wool addicts we are bound to remember where we got each fix! 😎 The sweater is beautiful and I know your grandmother is proud that you graphed the pattern to share! I actually have an itchy grey and white wool Norwegian sweater that’s my sized. You’re right, they are ITCHY and heavy, to be worn as a jacket. Down here in San Diego I use it on days when we need coats. 😎

    Like

  33. Please feel free to turn the graph into a sweater! My grandmother would be flattered and pleased.

    The multi-colored knitting (where the yarns are held behind) are very warm as you basically have a sweater with double (triple, etc.) the yarn – which is why, some would say, historically the Norwegian sweaters were busily-patterned over the chest but not the lower part of the sweater (which would be tucked into overalls or high pants, anyway!).

    I read or saw on a documentary somewhere that felting was developed by the Mongols (?) who used it (they didn’t weave or knit much, if at all), because it blocked wind that roared over the tundra and steppes. ? 🙂

    Like

  34. Yes – inside and out! The arms are too short for me though and I have thought about cutting off the bottom couple of inches and reknitting – but I am worried it would be too different from the sweater. I would HATE to ruin it. Any ideas? 🙂

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  35. My grandmother would be so pleased if you used her pattern! No, sadly I cannot start the sweaters now. I am in tbe midst of developing a business plan (for a nonn-fiber-related business). Right now my knitting is much needed for its calming qualities.

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  36. Perhaps our memories of the yarn are good becauase we can smell and touch them too … so lots of senses involved? 🙂

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  37. Yes – and we then get to wear our holiday memories!

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  38. It must be a skill we fiber folk develope! 🙂

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  39. The smell and feel of itchy wool with snow stuck to it opens a flood of memories! Wow – you remember who made the unique skeins!

    Like

  40. Paula says:

    Love the sweater. I have an Icelandic sweater with the ichiest warm wool that is over 25 years old and still going strong.

    You are not the only one! I may not remember where I acquired every skein, but the special, one of a kind hand dyed, oh yes, I remember who made it.

    Like

  41. iknead2knit says:

    I do the same thing, Some people take photos, some journal, I buy yarn.

    Like

  42. Suzy says:

    Not sure I could remember where I bought EVERY skein, but I bet I could name it for most. And you just reminded me I should get something ordered for my Dad’s birthday. Saturday.

    Like

  43. Cheryl Marie says:

    Wow, that sweater is amazing and I think I will try my hand at the pattern you graphed. Are you going to start it soon? I would love to follow your progress. Also – Yes I do remember when and where I bought all my stash yarn 🙂 It would be interesting to see what percentage of knitters do!

    Like

  44. Tina says:

    Gorgeous sweater!

    Like

  45. domesticnews says:

    Your sweater is beautiful and you are so generous to share, Thank You! 🙂
    That yarn might be scratchy but I see that it hasn’t pilled. Can you please advise how to select yarn that lasts so well? I’m discouraged from knitting hubby’s (big project!) sweaters that pill badly. Our knit shop says any animal fibre will do this. Bet not! This is a big Question for me, hope you can help.

    Like

  46. remilyknits says:

    I remember all my stash too! I also remember what I was listening to or watching on TV when I knit a given project …

    Like

  47. ordinarygood says:

    Wow!!!!!! That is a beautiful piece of knitting. I am in awe of you graphing the pattern.
    We could do with such wind beating woollens here in New Zealand in winter.

    Yup I can remember the origins of all my stash too…..I had never thought about that before your question. My diary keeps me reasonably on the plan for other things, thank goodness:-)

    Like

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