Resources for Nordic Sweater Lovers
By SARAH POLLOCK
This sidebar is a supplement to The Norwegian Sweater Detective
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 to put on your itinerary. And there is plenty more:
- Norges Husflidslag, the Norwegian Arts and Crafts Association, is a good place to start for more information on Norwegian wool, yarn and sweaters. Here’s their Facebook page. They have launched a new project called Ullialt (“Wool in Everything”) to increase the knowledge, use, and availability of Norwegian wool. Here’s an English translation of an article about Ullialt. The Ullialt project has created an ongoing list that identifies which mills and which yarns use Norwegian wool. Google translate is helpful here.)
- The Nordic Fashion Association has useful information about a collaborative Scandinavian project focused on wool’s ecological importance to the region.
- A fun new mini-series called “Norwegian Craft Traditions with Arne and Carlos” has a whole episode on Annemor Sundbø, and another on Setesdal textiles (available on YouTube.)
- For a comprehensive dive into the complexities of Norwegian wool, you can download a 161-page report by the National Institute for Consumer Research English) called “Valuing Norwegian Wool.” A companion paper, called “New Opportunities for Norwegian Wool,” explores how Norwegian wool can contribute to a more sustainable textile industry.
- In the United States, the Norwegian Textile Letter is a quarterly publication for fans of Norwegian (and other Scandinavian) fiber activities, published since 1994. Scholarly or informational articles aim to raise the level of knowledge about historical and contemporary weaving and other textile techniques in Scandinavian countries and highlight related activities in the United States.
If you are traveling to Norway, a few events that might be of interest include:
- Dyrsku’n, an annual 3-day festival held in September in Telemark, was traditionally a place to meet, show, sell, and buy cows, sheep, and other livestock. Today, the festival’s 740 exhibits also include lectures and demonstrations about Norwegian culture, arts and crafts, and music.
- There are seasonal knitting markets in Oslo and Bergen several times a year, as well as in smaller towns. These events showcase and sell original handmade designs, patterns, yarns, and ready-made knitwear. The Oslo market can be followed on facebook. The annual Bergen Knitting Festival is typically held in September. While you’re in Bergen, you can also visit the Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum.
A few good sites for Norwegian wool yarns:
- Rauma Wool Factory in Rauma in Veblungsnes, which dates to 1927, uses Norwegian wool and Norwegian spun yarn.
- Lofoten Wool. If you’re in the mood to take a trip to the Lofoten Islands (an archipelago above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway), you can visit Lofoten Wool, which produces yarn from spelsau sheep. You can visit the sheep, and buy yarn, patterns, and finished knitted and woven products from a workshop called Høystålet on the second floor of an old barn (check the website for open hours). Lofoten yarns come undyed, in natural hues of cream, grey, taupe, and brown, and plant-dyed, in shades of blue as well as autumnal ochres and yellows. Since their philosophy is to use as much the sheep as possible, you can also buy paté, and dried and salted lamb. (If you can’t make it to the farm, you can purchase their wool on norskegarn.no.)
- Hillesvåg Woolmill on the north side of the Oster fjord, near Bergen, is a Norwegian company that dates to 1898 and has been in the same family for four generations. The mill, which processes only Norwegian wool, offers tours that follow the entire process of transforming raw wool into yarn.
- Sandnes Ullvarefabrikk, a yarn factory established in 1888 about 20 minutes south of Stavanger, is also locally owned and sells patterns and locally sourced woolen yarn. Sandnes also produces yarn from Uruguayan wool, cotton, and alpaca, so if your goal is to stay purely local, read the labels carefully. And don’t worry—you can purchase patterns in English.
- An excellent online source for Norwegian-produced wool and patterns is Norsk Garn. You’ll have to use Google translate to find your way around the site, but the pictures help. They also sell garnpakker, or packages, that include sweater patterns and yarn from Norwegian mills that spin wool from cross-bred and heritage Norwegian sheep.
Finally, if that’s not enough…
You can stream “Slow TV: National Knitting Evening,” in which Norwegians knit and talk about knitting for several hours. Don’t worry, it has subtitles.