Home Destination Guides Norwegian Sweaters: Everything you need to know (NORDIC WOOL SWEATER GUIDE)

Norwegian Sweaters: Everything you need to know (NORDIC WOOL SWEATER GUIDE)

by Lisa Stentvedt
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One of my favourite items of clothing is a white and yellow knitted wool sweater that my sister made for me years ago. I wear it all the time during the winter months, and get so many comments and questions about it (I once got stopped in an airport by a lady wanting to get the knitting pattern). It’s safe to say that Nordic and Norwegian wool sweaters are the perfect winter staple, and I totally get why so many people ask me about mine (I have more, of course, it’s just that this one is my favourite). So I thought I’d share where you can get some for yourself!

If you’ve seen a Scandinavian movie or TV show (usually the crime ones), you will have seen one of the famous Nordic and Norwegian sweaters I’m about to talk about in this post. I like to refer to them as Norwegian sweaters, but to be fair, I can’t really take credits from the Danes (or the Swedes) on this topic (which is why I should be referring to them as Scandinavian or Nordic sweaters).

Scandinavian sweaters became all the rage a while back, around the time that Broen (The Bridge) premiered. You know, the Danish crime show with a main character who lived in one of these cozy knitted sweaters? I’m sure you do.

Naturally, I own a few of these sweaters myself. Scandinavian and Norwegian sweaters are trademarked by being knitted wool sweaters, intended to keep you warm through the freezing winters we have up here. But, they have also become quite fashionable, and now everyone and their grandma wants one (literally). I have noticed, because every time I wear the one my sister knitted for me on Instagram (pictured below) I get DM’s asking me where it’s from.

Of course, I’ll share the pattern with you!

For those wondering, mine was originally knitted in the “Setesdal” pattern, before my sister made a mistake and decided to go a bit rogue. So it’s a one-of-a-kind, you may say. I love getting questions about it, and that time I got stopped at the airport in Sweden by an older lady asking me what pattern it was made me so happy. I actually called my sister right away, haha.

Now before I break down some of the most popular Norwegian and Scandinavian knitted sweaters for you, you might be wondering how you can go about knitting one yourself (if you are a knitter, of course). If you want to knit your own Norwegian or Scandinavian sweater, this is the book of knitting patterns you need!

girl in yellow nordic sweater and dark green trousers reading on a Kindle by the fireplace in norway with a box of firewood on the floor
Nordic sweaters are all about the patterns! This one is a version of the Setesdal pattern (and the socks are the famous Marius pattern).

A Guide to Norwegian Sweater Patterns (look here if you want to knit a sweater yourself)

First things first. I thought I would share a quick guide to the most famous Norwegian knitting patterns. Of course, some of these are also popular in Sweden and Denmark – but they hail from Norway.

With this knowledge, you won’t look like a question mark the next time you compliment a Scandinavian on their wool sweater, and they go “Thank you! It’s a Skappel sweater!“.

Most Nordic and Norwegian Sweaters are knitted after specific patterns, with some being more popular than others. All Scandinavian sweaters are generally wool (some thicker, some thinner), and either hand-knitted (making them more expensive) or knitted by machine (slightly cheaper). Of course, you’ll quickly find that getting a Nordic wool sweater is not cheap, regardless of whether you opt for a machine knit. This is because most of the well-known brands who carry knits use locally sourced wool, and as some of you may already know, Norway is rather expensive.

More on the specific sweater brands to look out for below!

Even if you choose to knit one yourself, you’ll find that purchasing the pattern and the wool is almost as expensive as buying a sweater that has already been made. Personally, I had no idea that you had to buy the patterns in order to knit one of these, and thought that anyone who knew how to knit could do it. But, as my sister and my friends who enjoy knitting have all informed me; that’s not the case. So there you have it.

However, opting to knit a sweater yourself is definitely more special. The main reason my yellow Setesdal sweater is my absolute favourite is because it was a gift from my sister. Whilst I have more wool sweaters, that’s the one you see me wearing most.

Side note: ever since discovering this Harry Potter Knitting Pattern book, I’ve been dying to pick up knitting myself! Who knew there were so many fun patterns and Nordic sweaters you could knit yourself?

The most popular patterns for Norwegian (or Scandinavian)

Below is an overview of some of the most popular knitting patterns to be aware of, before sharing the different brands you should know about, and some of my favourite Nordic sweaters below (I mean, you do need one for your Norway trip; especially if you are visiting in the winter).

The Marius Pattern

Probably the most famous pattern in Norway. Seriously, you’ll see this everywhere: on sweaters, socks, and even phone covers. It is traditionally knitted in red, white and blue (the Norwegian colours), but in recent years many different colour variations have come up.

The Marius pattern was created in 1953, and has been a Norwegian staple ever since. The designer, Unn Søiland, actually received the Norwegian King’s Medal of Merit for her contribution to Norwegian culture.

If you head this way, you’ll see that even the US Amazon has a huge selection of Marius patterned products – perfect for those celebrating a Norwegian Christmas in the US and want to add some Scandi vibes at home, or if you are a Norwegian-American looking for more reminders of your heritage through the year.

The Setesdal Pattern

This is the pattern my sweater is in, and another very popular knitting pattern in Norway. Setesdal is the name of a valley in Norway, where the pattern originates from. The pattern is very traditional, and it is unknown what year it dates back to. The earliest evidence of it in photos is from the 1800s, so we can assume it is over 150 years old!

This pattern comes in a large variation of colours, unlike the Marius pattern that traditionally sticks to red, white and blue.

The Fana Pattern

Fanakofte is the name of a specific knitted sweater from the Norwegian area of Fana, near Bergen. This is a local pattern to the Fana region. You will find that most regions in Norway will have their own sweater pattern that is unique to them. However, many of the patterns are popular all over Norway, such as this one. The Fana sweater is now seen, knitted and sold all over the country.

The pattern is perhaps less well-known than Marius and Setesdal, but if you visit Norway you are bound to see the star-like shapes and stripes on sweaters as you travel through.

The Skappel Sweater

This is a fairly new and modern design, which has become very popular across all ages in Norway in recent years. This is a baggy, knitted sweater created by Norwegian TV presenter Dorthe Skappel and her daughters, and it became all the rage when it was first released (much thanks to social media). Whilst it does not have a recognisable pattern, there are stripy knit details throughout, that you will notice when looking at it up close.

More Norwegian Knitting Patterns

If you love knitting and want to try knitting one of these yourself, then this book of Norwegian knitting patterns will be your new best friend. It was written by a Norwegian, and includes both the Setesdal and the Marius sweaters, in addition to some more modern patterns and styles. It also includes hats and other pieces of clothing.

If you want to knit Norwegian sweaters and Norwegian sweaters only, then this book might be more to your liking. With 25 specific sweater patterns from Norway to choose from, you can keep yourself and your family warm in Scandinavian sweaters for years to come. Do note that this one includes the author’s own designs, and not the traditional patterns I’ve mentioned above.

Nordic Sweater Brands to Know About

As mentioned above, there are several Norwegian companies and brands selling these wool sweaters. The most popular and well-known ones have been making these for decades, and have played an integral part in making these knitted sweaters such a big part of Norwegian heritage and culture. Below are just a few you need to know about before buying your own Norwegian or Scandinavian sweater.

Dale of Norway

The most famous of all the creators of these traditional sweaters is without a doubt Dale of Norway. A lot of people in the US will have heard of this brand as well, and it is even sold in the Norwegian pavilion in Epcot in Disney World (where I used to work!).

The company was founded in (and named after) the small town of Dale, just a half hour from Bergen. This industrial town stood out due to the powerful river flowing through it, providing accessible energy to the factories in town. The Dale factory was built in 1879, and has since survived fires, wars and even floods. Up until 1967, all sweaters were knitted by hand, but since then they have had to resort to machine knitting.

Dale is the official supplier of knits to the Norwegian skiing teams in both the Olympics and the World Championships. The 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway helped put Dale on the map internationally, and now it is not unheard of in countries outside of Norway and the Nordics.

If you don’t live near Disney World, you’ll be happy to hear that Amazon actually carries a large range of Dale of Norway’s sweaters, and you can browse them all here.

Rauma Collection

Rauma is another well-known brand of Norwegian sweaters, and whilst they are still not cheap, they come at a slightly lower price point than Dale. Whilst they also make traditional wool sweaters, they are quite forward-thinking in their ways, and were amongst the first companies in the world to make use of 3D knitting technology (don’t ask me what that means).

Since Rauma is a little less well-known that Dale, it is a little trickier to come by outside of Scandinavia. However, this online shop sells a selection of them, and ships worldwide!

Devold of Norway

Like Dale, Devold has been around for a long time. Over 160 years, to be exact. They are more known for making sturdy, outdoor sweaters than for using the traditional Norwegian patterns, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do so. You’ll find plenty of traditional Norwegian and Nordic sweaters in the Devold shop, in addition to their own designs and collections. Whilst their factory has been moved to Lithuania, their patterns and traditions are Norwegian. If you are visiting Oslo, they have a large flagship store there you should visit, right by the Oslo Opera House and Munch Museum.

two feet wearing wool marius pattern socks in front of a fireplace
The Marius Pattern can be found at all the above-mentioned brands.

Norwegian Sweaters You Must Have for your Norway Trip (or just because they are comfy)

Let me start by saying that if you are specifically looking for Norwegian sweaters for men or women, you’ll quickly find that most of them are made for either. Most Scandinavian sweaters are pretty unisex, and both men and women wear all patterns.

However, some retailers create sweaters in either a female or a unisex cut, so that if you want one that is shaped to your figure (as a woman), you’ll be able to find it. Below I share some of my favourite Nordic sweaters for men and women separately, so you can find the best fit for you.

Regardless, if you are a woman and you see a sweater below that falls under the men’s heading, don’t fret. All the “men” sweaters are actually unisex, so just go ahead and get it for yourself!

If you opt for knitting it yourself (by getting this book, for example), you’ll end up with sweaters that fit anyone (and that are not tailored to any gender). This is what I love so much about Nordic sweaters: they are absolute classics suitable for anyone!

Classic Norwegian Sweaters for Men

The knits below are all classics, in well-known patterns and colours. For example, the Marius sweater here is in its intended, original colours of red, white and blue. These are all considered traditional styles.

Classic Norwegian Sweaters for Women

As with the mens/unisex sweaters above, these are all classic styles and patterns. When looking for Scandinavian sweaters, you’ll find that the colouring for women is often a bit more “bold”, even when you opt for black and white. However, I have tried my best to find styles in mainly “muted” colours here. Further below I have selected some more colourful sweaters for you!

Scandinavian Wool Sweaters and Outfits for Children and Babies

Of course, you might want to dress the little ones up in head-to-toe Marius or Setesdal! These are absolutely adorable, and perfect if you want to match your toddler.

Colourful Scandinavian Sweaters (for Both Men and Women)

Below are a few sweaters (for both men and women) with some added colour. These are definitely less traditional, and what’s interesting is that more and more of these patterns include very unusual colour combinations, such as pastels, purples and pink. Note that these are not traditional patterns at all, but more like remakes of the popular Nordic sweaters.

My Favourite Dale of Norway Sweaters

Dale of Norway is probably the #1 retailer of the traditional Norwegian wool sweaters, so they deserve their own heading here. I thought I would share some of my favourite Dale of Norway sweaters. As mentioned, this is a hugely popular brand, and definitely one of my favourites when it comes to knits.

They are high-quality and will keep you nice and warm through the Scandinavian winter. The only issue I have is that they are quite expensive, so getting one of these is more of a long-term investment than an impulse buy. However, they’ll last you for years to come, and are by many Norwegians considered “generational items”. This means that your kids will inherit your Dale sweater, and so on. It’s actually pretty special, when you think about it.

These are both female and unisex cuts, but as mentioned above, it doesn’t matter which one you buy (unless you are really particular about the fit).

A Few More Knitted Sweaters for your Norway Trip

I was supposed to end this post here, but during my research I came across so many more Scandi sweaters that I just had to include. So here are a few more of my recent favourites, from different brands (and in different price ranges). Not all are by Scandinavian brands, but you’ll find both Dale of Norway and Fjällräven on the list!

Side note: Fjällräven has some great Scandinavian sweaters in their selection, and they are a little more budget-friendly than the Dale ones. I didn’t mention them above, since they are Swedish (hmpf), but I still can’t complain about the quality of their clothing.

Knit your own Norwegian/Nordic Sweater

I know that many of those that find my blog and will read this post have Norwegian heritage, and that you want your sweater to be as authentic as possible.

Therefore, I’m sure you may want to knit your own Norwegian or Nordic sweater. I am not a knitter myself, but my sister is (the yellow Setesdal sweater I wear in the photo at the top of this post was a present from her, as I’ve mentioned a few times), and I know these are books she would recommend. So, if you want to knit your own Scandinavian sweater, you’ll need one of these (or all of them):

Do you have a favourite Nordic or Norwegian sweater?

I want to thank you for making it all the way to the bottom of this guide! I have shared some information about Norwegian knitting patterns, wool sweaters and brands, and hope it was what you were looking for. Now you have a handful of epic knitted sweaters for you to consider for your trip to Norway and Scandinavia (or for you to get so you can stay warm and cosy through winter). Nothing says hygge like one of these, a cup of hot chocolate, and a roaring fire, that’s for sure!

Which one was your favourite? Or do you have one that wasn’t on the list? I’d love to hear from you about what you think, and why you wanted to learn about Nordic sweaters in the first place! Please leave a comment below to share.

Wool Sweater FAQ

If you have any questions about Norwegian, Scandinavian and Nordic wool sweaters, look for your answer in the FAQ below!

What is the most famous pattern for Norwegian sweaters?

The Marius pattern is hands down the most popular and well-known pattern in Norwegian knitting. It was created in 1953.

What brands make Nordic sweaters?

Many Scandinavian brands make these popular wool sweaters, but ones to know about are Dale of Norway, Rauma Collection and Devold.

How do I take care of my Scandinavian wool sweater?

Always check the instruction for each sweater, but as a general rule, they are hand-wash or wool program only. Some you do not need to wash in the machine, but can hang out to air outside in the cold.

How much does a Nordic sweater cost?

As a general rule of thumb, the sweaters will set you back at least $200. However, it is possible to find them on sale as well. The more famous the pattern, the more expensive the sweater.

What Norwegian knitting patterns are popular for sweaters?

Patterns such as Marius, Setesdal and Fana are all very popular for wool sweaters.

Do all Norwegians own a Nordic wool sweater?

Pretty much, yes.

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