As I have just returned from an exciting trip to Iceland I was inspired to write about their famous woolly export. As you may already know I am a self confessed scandi-phile having lived in Sweden so needed little excuse to find out about the different Nordic knitting styles.
The famous unspun wool sweaters that keep the Icelanders toasty through the winter are referred to as ‘Lopapeysa’ but the yoke pattern we love today actually only originated after WWII. Historically an Icelandic sweater would have a different pattern according to which village it came from in order to help identify fishermen drowned at sea.
The Faroe Islands consist of 18 tiny islands situated in the north Atlantic between Iceland and Norway which is populated by 45,000 people. Here they also use a thick, hairy wool for their traditional sweaters which notably coming to fame recently when worn by Sarah Lund, the detective in the Danish Crime thriller ‘The Killing’
The traditional Norwegian ‘Lusekofte’ or ‘Setesdalgenser’ has a long history and apparently everyone in Norway at some time in their life has owned a ‘Setesdal’ They were working men’s sweater’s but are still considered now to be smart enough over a shirt and tie for business attire. The popularity of the ‘Marius’ sweater from Norway came later from a 1950’s film about a handsome ski instructor who wore this said jumper designed by Unn Søiland Dale. Originally in the red white and blue of the Norwegian flag today it is one of Norway’s most sold jumper patterns and is knitted in many different colour combinations.
Sweden has many traditional knitwear designs but the ‘Gotland’ jumper pattern is the most distinctive. The small Island of Gotland off the Swedish coast has a long knitting history dating back to at least the end of the 1600’s.
Danish knitting began out as single colour garments until the navy and white ‘Skrå-trøje’ of Sejerø appeared at then end of the 1800’s. This garment sports some of the snowflake patterns we all associate with Nordic knitwear today.
Of course we have our own amazing knitwear including the Irish Arran, the Gansey and in particular the ‘Fair Isle’ which originates from the place of the same name; the remotest Island in Scotland. The official versions that are hand knitted here by a dozen or so craft-knitters take about 100 hours to make. These are beautiful unique artisan products that will be treasured for a lifetime – perfect for the slow fashion philosophy I want to be inherent in the Boy Wonder brand. Due to viking invasions and early trading with Scandinavia knitting traditions would have been passed on to us Brits so we can see similarities within these different knits. This is something I would love to build on and develop within my collections. So watch this space for more woolly wonders!
#Knitwear #ScandiChic #Iceland