Provenance of a Norwegian pullover

A few weeks ago, I was in Copenhagen. As always, I found time to spend with my friend, Erun. We had plans to go out for dinner, but after a long day of teaching I was tired and she volunteered to cook. When I showed up at her house, this was casually draped on the table:

“I thought you might like to see this pullover, Kelly”, she said. “It was knitted by my great grandmother.”

Long-time readers of this blog will know that this is my catnip – I love beautiful knitting that survives the decades, lovingly worn and cared for by generations of knit-worthy recipients. My grandmother was a knitter, and my mother, although no longer wielding her needles, is a great knitter and even better seamstress. I wrote about some of their beautiful pieces in the three blog posts called Retrospective Knits, from 2012, which you can find here, here, and here.

Erun’s mother, Liv, is also a fantastic knitter and I have written before in these pages about her knitting (see this post for an unbelievably beautiful version of a Norwegian classic). But this sweater was actually knitted for Liv by her grandmother. How wonderful! Do you think I tried it on?

Isn’t this amazing! (When I sent this photo to Doug and the girls, they insisted I needed to recreate this sweater, exactly, for myself…and for them.)

Erun’s great-grandmother Grethe (Margrethe Marie Jørgensen Glad) was born in Tved, Ebeltoft, Denmark, on December 19th, 1907. She was one of 14 siblings. When she was 17, she emigrated to Arendal, Norway, where her brother lived and worked as a fisherman, so that she might earn a living. She married the cousin of her sister-in-law, a man named (Sverre) Normann Tjøstolvsen. (Erun says: “everyone called him Normann, which simply means “Norwegian” or possibly “Nordic”.) The photo below shows Grethe and Normann, holding their great granddaughter Erun.

Grethe knitted a lot. Erun also remembers her amazing garden filled with flowers and large family dinners at her house, where she lived and managed on her own until she was around 90. It was sometime around 1970-1973 that Grethe knitted this pullover for Liv. I wonder if Grethe could imagine that someday her great grand-daughter would be wearing it too! (My guess is, yes; they knitted them to last in those days!) Here is a photo of Erun wearing it in 2013 on holiday in Lofoten:

I love this photo so much! Everything about it is beautiful – Erun, the sweater, the view, the framing, the bright red shawl!

Liv tells us that this pullover was knitted with a now-discontinued yarn called Triplex. Apparently there were extensive protests in the knitting community when Triplex and Perlekrepp (“pearl-crepe”) were discontinued in the 80s. There is even a still-existing FB group (with over 700 members) demanding that Sandnes should restart the production of these yarns. The yarn is 100% wool and you can see it has great stitch definition and no pills, despite being over 50 years old. Here is a photo of the reverse side for all of you other knitting fanatics out there (you were hoping I remembered to take one, weren’t you?)

I really enjoy recording the provenance of hand knits. My enthusiasm apparently triggered lots of memories and family discussions. Erun tells me that she even called her mother’s uncle, Grete’s son, to chat with him about his mother and her knitting. He has just turned 90. I love to be an enabler of multi-generational knitting recollection.

Now, in addition to posts about my knitting, my mother’s knitting, my grandmother’s knitting, and Erun’s mother’s knitting, I am thrilled to add this post about Erun’s great-grandmother’s knitting. Liv and Erun – thanks for sharing your memories of this wonderful pullover with me and allowing me to share them here!

11 thoughts on “Provenance of a Norwegian pullover

  1. Yes, traditional Norwegian sweaters are time-resistant and knitted with sturdy wool. I’m so in love with them. I hope some day I’ll go and visit the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo, where they’ve got a whole collection of them.
    By any chance, do you know which sheep breed Triplex and Perlekrepp yarns were made of?

  2. What a beautiful sweater. It’s timeless. I love it. You must recreate it. I know you can. Thanks for sharing.

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