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The Norwegian Sweater Detective

In southern Norway, in a small workshop at the bottom of a verdant, postcard-perfect valley, Annemor Sundbø gathers remnants, paintings, and authentic reproductions of traditional Norwegian sweaters. Her collections—along with her seven books on the subject—provide a window into the myths and meaning that were long woven into this legendary Nordic craft. Now she’s trying to bring back the sheep that grew Viking Norway’s unusually hardy wool.

Photography by MIKKEL AALAND

Listen to “The Norwegian Sweater Detective”

In a postcard-perfect valley in southern Norway, Annemor Sundbø nurtures her life’s work: old garments, paintings, and other clues to the myths and meaning woven for centuries into Norwegian sweaters. Now she’s trying to bring back the sheep that used to sustain this time-honored craft.

Resources for Nordic Sweater Lovers

The Setesdal Museum in Rysstad opened an exhibit in 2019 that honors Annemor Sundbø’s decades of work salvaging sweaters, documenting the culture of knitting, and promoting heritage wool. The exhibit is scheduled to be up for two years, so If you’re planning or even considering a trip to Viking country, this is a great stop…

Want an Authentic Norwegian Sweater? Here’s How to Find One

In my husband’s childhood in Norway, during the 1960s, each of the three boys in his family would get a new sweater every three years. His mother would let him choose a pattern and colors, and she’d then spend all fall knitting that boy’s sweater from wool she bought at the local knitting store. “The…

Old Norwegian Sheep and Their Durable Wool

After writing extensively about the history of Norwegian knitting and textile design, Annemor Sundbø turned her attention to the very foundation of those textiles, to the wool without which, she says, there would have been no Vikings. In the process, Sundbø has become an ardent ambassador for the value of the wool produced by Norway’s…

The Art of Making Norwegian Yarn

While Nordic sweater patterns are thoroughly identified with the region’s culture, knitting actually came late to Norway. At first imported from Europe as a luxury item, knitting was not undertaken as a widespread domestic craft until the shortages of the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th century made it necessary. It was then adopted enthusiastically…

Watch “The Norwegian Sweater Keeper”

Annemor Sundbø has dedicated her life to unearthing the myths and meanings behind Norwegian sweater traditions.

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