I am an avid knitter and am always on the lookout for amazing hand knit vintage sweaters that I can rescue from oblivion. I love hand knits and cannot bear to see them abandoned and unappreciated! I especially cherish children’s sweaters which were made with love by a grandmother, auntie or mother long ago. I know what is involved in making them since I knit myself and finding one and returning it to it’s original splendor is very exciting! Seeing it worn by children in my family and appreciated again is the icing on the cake!
I recently found this little boy’s Norwegian sweater in a filthy thrift shop. It was dirty, and terribly damaged. And only $2. But it was a total disaster. I should have taken before pictures, but I was in a hurry to clean and repair it to send to a little boy as a present!I needed to get it to him quickly so he could use it before he outgrew it. As we know little children grow like weeds so no time was to be wasted!
First off, I gathered up the live unraveling stitches on safety pins, then I washed it very carefully in cold water by hand, as I was afraid of moth or other infestation. I washed it over and over to get the disgusting amount of dirt out of the wool. It is made of beautiful quality old style yarn – of the nice stiff type that is now very hard to find. It still contains its natural oils.
The navy is a very dark inky shade, almost black, also impossible to find! I know as I searched every local yarn shop with the tattered, but now clean, little sweater looking for matching yarn to use for the extensive repairs needed. I could not find a match. I also want to find this type of yarn for my own knitting. Thus, if anyone reading this has a source I would be grateful if you would inform me of it.
The ribbing on the wrists was unraveling and torn, the ribbing at the neckline was coming out and the sweater had holes in the elbows, the button placket and the back. It looked like it had been worn as the main winter coat by some child and his three older brothers before him as a hand-me-down and never mended or washed! But old wool wears like iron, fortunately!
Unable to match the yarn in it I finally had to unknit sections of the sweater in order to get enough of the navy main color yarn to make the necessary repairs. I undid all the ribbing at the bottom and both cuffs and then picked up the live stitches and reknit them using the resulting salvaged yarn and making the new ribbing sections shorter than the originals had been. The ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and the cuffs of both sleeves is now about an inch shorter than originally. And it looks as good as new!You cannot tell that I have reworked it. I know this was often done during the mend and make do era. People also used to save a bit of the yarn and extend the ribbing to make the sweater larger as the child grew bigger.
Interestingly the B.K.S. Handmade in Norway label was still hanging by one thread so I resewed it on to retain the authenticity of the sweater.I think B.K. S. must be the initials of the woman or man who knitted this sweater. This nice touch makes me think I should get such a label made to sew inside the items I knit myself. I try to do as good a job as this and I want them to become heirlooms for my own family in the future.
The vintage pewter reindeer buttons are real beauties. And I was charmed by the fact that an extra was attached to the chest of the sweater with a red and navy striped grosgrain ribbon like a little military medal. The maker provided this extra button in case the child who got the sweater lost one! Fortunately none of the buttons were lost.
I took pictures of the sweater from all angles and both inside and outside to keep a nice record of how the fairisle work was done. It was both beautifully and expertly done. This is a textbook example of Norwegian knitting. It is worthy of a place in the Scandinavian Heritage Museum. I think it was made in the late 1940s or early 1950’s. It is a real treasure! Now restored to it’s rightful original splendor! I only wish the original knitter were able to know how much I appreciate her (or his) work! I would love to be able to tell her (or him) that myself! She (or he) so deserves it! I hope posting it on my blog garners the admiration and attention it deserves.
I will include photographs of the stranding closeup so you can compare the way it looks on both sides. Here goes!
I shipped it off the restored sweater to the lucky little boy I repaired it for just in time for Xmas. He will wear it, his little brother will wear it and it will be a treasured heirloom in our family now for a few more generations! I made them new sweaters too. I love making small ones because they work up so fast! It is good practice in these difficult techniques prior to taking on an adult size sweater. I often tackle a little one for a family member before taking on the challenge of doing an adult one. After this repair job I feel quite ready to undertake a full size Norwegian sweater. I just have to find the perfect pattern. I want to do an adult one for myself and a man’s size with reindeer and snowflakes on it.
I think this pattern is perfect for a child’s sweater. Does anybody out there have great classic vintage Norwegian sweater patterns for adults? Or know of a good source? I am looking now. Any suggestions will be most appreciated. I would like to find hat and mitten and glove patterns as well. And yes, I really will make them!
The red and white baby blanket under the Norwegian sweater in the photographs is my present for a new baby who is coming into the world in February! It is never too soon to start making hand knits and crochet heirlooms for the next generation! I am determined that they grow up with handmade knits so they enjoy them and learn to appreciate them! I did and that is what got me started as a knitter.
I was taught to knit by my grandma when I was only 4 years old. I was fascinated by it and couldn’t put the needles down! She later told me that she taught us to knit so she could busy us and get her own work done! She said it kept us occupied for hours enabling her to work on her own sewing and knitting! Brilliant!
Under her supervision I very proudly made my very first scarf for my grandpa for Christmas when I was five! It was copen blue wool and consisted of knit and purl stitches only. She made me rip it out and reknit it until it was absolutely perfect! He wore it for years and told everyone that I made it! He even wore reading in bed on cold nights and tied it around his bedpost so he could have it ready if a chill came on! They were very encouraging and supportive of the craft of knitting. They were sheep ranchers so their interest ran deep! They raised their own wool on their ranch in Southern Idaho. They sent it to the Pendelton Woolen Mills to be processed.
When I was a little older I went to the Pendelton Mill myself on Saturdays where they had knitting classes for children and teenagers. We were allowed to choose yarn for our projects from the overruns of the mil. It was a goldmine of fine wool in beautiful colors. I remember making my first sweater out of a beautiful emerald green merino held double with green mohair all the way from Italy. The yarn was free if you were a student there so cost was no object. The mill was interested in developing future knitters and demand for their products. I know of no such program these days! I attended those classes when I was in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. Then we moved away from the area. The teachers were excellent and I still remember what I learned there! It was an excellent basic foundation. Amazingly I was only 6 to 10 years old when I took those classes. My mother went to the advanced adult knitting groups and they created amazing items some of which I still have and will photograph and post on my blog in the near future.
I decided yesterday that I should photograph these beautiful vintage sweaters and share them with others. Once again, the exquisite vintage needlework produced by these women deserves to be seen!