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Get To Know Nordic Knits

Posted on November 08 2018

Winter is in full swing which means we have now entered peak jumper season. Whilst ugly Christmas jumpers are pretty much inescapable, it's classier Nordic knit cousin is a fabulously cosy and way less garish option for those who want to keep warm in style. This is a must-have item for both those into Scandinavian styling and the consistently cold.

nordic knitwear, scandi

The Origin of Nordic Knitwear

The traditional Nordic jumper features a wide decorative pattern around the neckline which is the same all the way around, meaning that you can wear it either way round and it wouldn't make a difference. It's named from the Icelandic lopapeysa from "Lopa" meaning wool and "peysa" translating to the sweater.

What are Nordic jumpers made from?

The real deal is always made from pure Icelandic wool with both inner and outer fibres that originate from sheep bred over 1000 years in sub-Arctic climates. There's nothing else quite like it in the world and anything manufactured else wear is considered a knockoff, the quality texture of the genuine product is both glossy and water resistant.

The Story behind the iconic Nordic pattern

You won't find many bright colours in these cuddly creations as the wool is mostly used in its natural hues: black, brown, grey and white. Although knitting came to Iceland in the mid-sixteenth century, this style of the jumper wasn't adopted until around the 1950's when they became an invented symbol of national identity following the countries' break away from Denmark. It's argued that the pattern draws inspiration from South American, Turkish and Swedish designs.

Norwegian variants of the Winter staple dates as far back as the 1500s and contribute to some of the most popular designs of the sweater to date. These versions of the Nordic sweater tend to be ever so slightly more colourful than their Icelandic counterparts. Two of the most renowned patterns attributed to this style are the setesdal lusekofte and the fana cardigan sweater.

Nordic Knitwear in Popular Culture

Nordic sweaters have been popular for Ski holidays since the 1930s. The 1950s saw the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly wearing these knit classic, right through the 1970s where Nordic knitwear became all the fashion for everyday winter wear.

Ingrid Bergman 1940s

The jumper was originally designed by Anna-Lisa Mannheimen around 1940 and the red edge pattern is a signature look from Swedish born actress Ingrid Bergman.

Grace Kelly 1960s

    The ever so chic Princess, and one of the worlds all-time timeless style icons. Seen here in a simple Nordic design cardigan in the late 1960s.

    Prince Charles 1980s

      It’s not every day you call Charles for some style inspo, but this cardigan polo neck combination is a must-have look for winter in a look that screams James Bond ski holiday.  

      Amy Pond in Dr Who 2011

        A modern take on the traditional jumper, and the beginning of the craze of wearing festive knitwear on Christmas day. Amy Pond from Dr Who pulls off a take on a traditional pattern from 1930s ski knitwear.

        Nordic Knitwear We Love

        Nowadays, Nordic and Scandinavian fashions can be seen everywhere from the catwalk to the high street, and everywhere in between. Style them with a pair of high waisted jeans and a sturdy pair of winter boots and you'll have yourself the cosiest ever Winter outfit, ready to tackle the great outside or cuddle up with a book indoors.

        Men's Nordic Jumper

          The more traditional men's Nordic jumper isn’t just for a weekend of fishing in the icey scandi countryside, they are the perfect winter warmer and a staple wardrobe piece! Whatever era your style falls under, they are a go-to paired with classic wool-blend trousers and high top Converse for the ultimate daytime look.

          Nordic Cardigan

            The cosier cousin of the jumper, your cardigan can take any outfit a long way! Go for classic 1960s look and pair yours with a simple polo neck and high waisted capri pants, you can also dress this up for Christmas day and pair with a vintage dress, perfect after Christmas dinner and way too many glasses of Baileys...

            Non-Traditional Jumper

              The bolder the better when it comes to a non-traditional Nordic knit. Great for everyday wear and enough to brighten up anyone’s cold Monday morning. Pair with vintage Levis and ankle boots for a timelessly on trend look.

              Inspired? Read more about the humble Christmas jumper on our ultimate guide and show off your purchased on Instasgram by tagging #beyondretro.

              Blogger @livpurvis in one of our vintage Nordic Knits

              Words Mary Costello