Norway’s Knitted Heritage: The History, Surprises, and Power of Traditional Nordic Sweater Patterns

Schiffer Craft. May 2023. 400p. ISBN 9780764366154. $60. CRAFTS
In 1983, textile designer/ fiber historian Sundbø (Knitting in Art) took ownership of a shoddy mill—a place where old, worn knitted garments, most notably sweaters, are recycled into yarn. As she sorted through the piles of items, she began to curate a collection of knitted items that demonstrate aspects of Norway’s folk knitting history. In this work translated from Norwegian by Rhoades and available in English for the first time, Sundbø traces the history of knitted items from various parts of the world and examines the impact of social movements and cultural traditions on the designs seen in Norwegian knitting. The text alternates between conversational explanations of the evolution of knitted garments and epistemological explorations. Some parts are dry and academic, such as an extended discussion of the possibility that Jesus’s tunic was knitted. Back matter includes a general guide to creating a sweater with given dimensions, an extensive charted colorwork pattern bank, a pictorial catalogue of sweaters from Sundbø’s shoddy mill collection, and a list of sources.
VERDICT Likely to appeal more to those studying the history of clothing than to the casual knitter.
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