The Nordic Sweater

Yesterday’s post on the LL Bean Norwegian sweater drew a helpful comment from a genuine Norwegian in our Facebook group. Although I’m sitting in a new deadstock sweater from Dale of Norway, the member told us about another storied knitwear brand called Devold. That’s a pretty good nickname for me, as in Da’ ‘Vold, though admittedly it’s not as clever as Chensvolk, as I’m referred to by some comrades on Twitter.

Anyway, here’s what he had to say:

In Norway they’re called islandsgenser or islender (translation: sweater from Iceland). It’s a strange name, as I have never seen a sweater like this in Iceland. Everybody and their grandmother has one of these. The most usual colors are white with a black pattern. More often than not they’re han- knitted at home out of thick and very rustic yarn. The best factory made ones are from Devold, and they make a blue/white one as well. Alas they moved their production to Lithuania some years ago, but the quality is the same as before. My Devold sweater is at least a decade old by now and with heavy-duty service each winter, but is still going strong.

The last 1o years a pattern called “Marius” have been more popular here. It’s a beautiful Nordic pattern, invented in the years after World War II and named after the Norwegian actor, fighter pilot and alpine skier Marius Genser.

Their old factory outside of Aalesund (western Norway, by the coast) has been converted to a museum and factory store. Their main production (sweaters) has been moved, but there could be some production left for all I know. It makes sense in a marketing perspective. Moving production from Norway to Lithuania is comparable to production moving from the UK to Portugal (like Fred Perry and others have done in the past). It’s not necessarily that much cheaper, but it’s easier to recruit and keep a skilled and experienced staff.

Here are some vintage images showing the variety of patterns and collar types, including bonny Prince Charlie below:

A boatneck is quite fitting, given Norwegians’ seafaring history:

On that note, are there turtles in Norway?

This one looks like it has crossed battle axes. Very Viking:

Handsome pattern:

If he’s got a sweater on underneath, then this really is too matchy-matchy:

Nordic sweaters are for the whole family…

… though people must eventually get tired of them. — DA’ ‘VOLD

25 Comments on "The Nordic Sweater"

  1. The last 1o years a pattern called “Marius” have been more popular here. It’s a beautiful Nordic pattern, invented in the years after World War II and named after the Norwegian actor, fighter pilot and alpine skier Marius Genser.

    I think your Norwegian correspondent is having you on. As the text in the vintage ads makes clear genser means “sweater”.

    I think the Marius in question was one Marius Eriksen.

  2. Nice post, Chensvolk!

    To the best of my knowledge, I have no Nordic blood curing through my veins (No DNA test yet, though.) However, I have a soft spot for Norwegian sweaters. My favorite is one I drove to Stowe to purchase directly from the woman who made it. That was back in 1981, and her name was Wende Winslow; the name of her business was Nordic Nomad. It is the best – warmest – sweater I have ever worn. Here in the Peoples Republic of Maryland, winters don’t usually necessitate breaking out the wool very often, but when necessary, that sweater is my go-to.

    Cheers, BC

  3. He must’ve meant it’s called the “Marius sweater” and I misunderstood him and thought it was the guy’s last name.

    I speak more Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Armenian than I do Norwegian, which is nil.

  4. Magnus Bjornstad | October 18, 2019 at 12:36 am |

    Can’t imagine wearing a sweater with any design whatsoever. Certainly not the overbearing designs of Nordic sweaters. Solid color sweaters are available in such a wide range of colors that one hardly needs decorative additions.

  5. Erik Pedersen | October 18, 2019 at 1:21 am |

    Like Mr. Bjornstad, I don’t dress like a stereotypical Disneyesque caricature of a Scandinavian. We Danes are truly amused by American tourists who think they will blend in by wearing Christmasy Nordic sweaters.

  6. Knopf? Plainly he should hold out for Viking . . .

  7. The “Marius” sweater pattern is named after Marius Eriksen, older brother of the famous skier Stein Eriksen.
    Marius Eriksen was a WW2 flying ace and an Olympic skier himself.

  8. Scandinavians really love their techno music. My favorite groups include Röyksopp (Norway) and The Knife (Sweden) https://youtu.be/gKhjaGRhIYU.

  9. Why would anyone wish to buy a cheap imitation, made in China!, from LL Bean? If you want genuine Norwegian knitwear, Norlender is the company to go to – https://norlender.no/shop-men. It offers traditional designs and ships to the US. Take a look at Iceladic knitwear companies too. Only cheapskates buy fake tat.

  10. Prince Philip in ‘The Crown.” His time away–on the ship. Behold, the Devold.

    And official Royal Navy beard. Full.

  11. Kenny, Thanks for the link to Norelender. Sharing of information here is another reason for participating.

    Ben Braddock, Your ubiquitous snide comments are unbecoming and a reason to retreat from what is otherwise a mostly positive online Ivy Style expereince.

    To all, enjoy the weekend!

    Cheers, BC

  12. Beto O Rourke | October 18, 2019 at 11:41 am |

    @ BC, Braddock ( his latest alias) has a failed competing site and he comes here to take out his frustrations on Christian. He’s a very envious, small man.

  13. Henri Dubois | October 18, 2019 at 1:13 pm |

    Beto,
    Why don’t you share the name of the competing site with us?

  14. Beto O Rourke | October 18, 2019 at 2:55 pm |

    Don’t want to give them any more hits Hank, I’m enjoying watching their slow descent into internet obscurity.

  15. Hah! I am wearing a Nordic-y sweater for the first time today!

  16. LLBean Norwegian sweater and weejuns are as Nordic-y as I get. I did have a distant relative named Sven though.
    LLBean moss green saddle shoulder crew neck sweater today with black with gold bar striped BB tie and white OCBD, Bill’s khakis cuffed no break and cordovan Alden loafers. Thought about socks this morning-it was in the high 40’s-but no.

    Cheers

    Will

  17. Kenny,
    Solveig 617 is kinda nice, in rose on ivory, not for me, of course.

  18. Old School Tie | October 18, 2019 at 5:31 pm |

    Genser – sweater. Gansey or Guernsey – a seaman’s knitted woollen sweater. Coincidence? As an aside, the 1986 autumn/winter collection from French Connection was Nordic knitwear taken to the Nth level…

  19. Beto,
    Are we expected to waste our weekend scouring the Internet for that site? Why not just save us time and clue us in?

  20. Ezra Cornell | October 19, 2019 at 2:44 am |

    I think he means the Failing New York Times. Who knew the president reads IS?

  21. Don’t like patterned sweaters like the “Nordic.” I’ve had a aversion to long sleeve sweaters. Usually, I wear some sort of sleeveless pullover v neck. Can’t stand long sleeve sweatshirts, either. I’ve been cutting the sleeves off, and wearing them unhemmed since I was a boy. A tribute to Maynard G. Krebs, I guess.

    “You rang.”

  22. I’d just love to see a picture of someone, like the Prince, wearing a Nordic sweater with the sleeves cut off.

    May create a standard, like not buttoning the last button on a vest.

  23. The long-range forecast is for a long, cold winter. I’m tempted by the Kirk Douglas’s Heroes of Telemark look. Just add a blue ventile smock.

  24. Marius Genser was a typo on my part in the original FB post. it should have said Marius Eriksen. Marius Genser (or more correctly: Mariusgenser) is the norwegian term for the sweater itself/the pattern.

    I really can´t explain its resurgence though. The pattern has existed more than half a century and has always been a popular home knitting pattern. It´s something a grandmother typically would knit for her old grandson. But it was always one of several, and the islender (LL Bean nordic sweater), both home knitted and storebought, used to way more popular.

    The Norlender brand I´ve never heard of before! It´s a small factory just outside of Bergen it seems. It´s the real deal, fair prices, so order from them. I certainly will next time.

    They have a nordic sweater/islander as well, both navy/white and white/black. So best of both worlds:
    https://norlender.no/shop-men/island-378

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