It’s not always easy finding a travel buddy willing to do a weekend-long yarn crawl with you, so earlier this year when my lovely friend Sydney asked if I wanted to join her for a weekend in Oslo - I knew I had to make the journey! You may recognize Sydney from Instagram as @SquidneyKnits or as the Headmaster of “Squid’s School of Vintage Knitting” on Patreon. We met years ago on Instagram as two yarn shop workers who really loved knitstory and this Nor-weekend was the perfect excuse to meet up once again!
My love of Norwegian knitting and wool is in large part due to my work here at The Woolly Thistle, and I was delighted to get a chance to dive into their fiber culture headfirst. Of course I had to report back to all the Thistlers what I learned along the way!
Rauma is Everywhere
While planning my trip, I wanted to visit the Rauma Ullvarefabrikk (essentially a factory outlet next to the mill), but after actually looking at a map and seeing it was a six hour journey, that hope quickly disappeared. However, after just one yarn shop, I realized that you don’t need to travel that far in Norway to see all of Rauma’s offerings.
My intentions for yarn shopping going into this trip was to choose colors that I want to wear more but don’t have in my stash. This turned out to be a great instinct as most stores we visited displayed their yarn in a rainbow fashion, which makes deciphering between different shades of the same color much easier since they’re side by side.
A display of Rauma at Heiman Husfliden
A Department Store with its own Crafting Section
I’m sure it’s no surprise to Thistlers that Rauma is a big name in Norwegian yarn shops. But it isn’t just a beloved yarn brand, they make everything: patterns, samples, even knitting needles. I had to pick up a set of Rauma DPNs to check them out and discovered they’re produced in the same factory as Addi: a cool and practical souvenir for a notions nerd like me!
Rauma Round Needles on Display
A Closeup of a Sweater Sample at Heimen Husfliden
Norway Loves its Knitstory
Amongst the sprinting to yarn & vintage shops, we allocated an entire day to visiting the Norse Folk Museum - and we are so glad we did! In addition to stunning architectural wonders like the church that looks straight out of Disney’s Frozen, there were fascinating exhibits on Norwegian history that often included textiles. Even better, we found an entire exhibit dedicated to knitting - a dream for two knitting historians! We wandered the gallery and learned everything from knitting’s pop culture revival to its most famous knitwear designer Unn Søiland Dale who was the inspiration behind my Vandre souvenir socks which you can read more about in my last blog post here. If you’re curious to learn even more, check out Sydney’s lecture about her at her Vintage Knitting School!
If you find yourself in Oslo, the Knitting or Strikking exhibit at the Norse Folk Museum is a must-see. We learned so much from the plaques on the wall which had been translated to English and the artifacts alone were worth a stop. Everything from 1980s mohair sweaters to 1940s skiwear were on display. They even showed the various notions people used, and I was most struck by the intricate needles and cover made by Sámi artisans (the indigenous people of Norway).
Sámi Knitting Needles and Holder
Norwegian Pattern book and Socks
Knitting in Norway Dates Back to the 15th-16th century
While I’ve always viewed Norway as a starting point of knitting, I learned from the museum that it likely didn’t reach Norwegian shores until either the 15th or 16th century. The oldest piece we saw on display was this beautifully red “sleep shirt”, exhibited in a drawer case which visitors can open to look at, then close shut to preserve the yarn’s color from the display lights. The eight-leaf rose pattern is handmade using a damask technique on very thin needles, meaning it took a lot of time to make and was very expensive to buy.
Overview Shot of the Sweater in its Drawer display
My biggest Surprise? It’s not made of wool! As you may be able to tell from the sheen, it’s knit out of silk which isn’t known as one of Norway’s homegrown fibers. Turns out this piece was actually imported from somewhere else although the source is currently unknown. I loved this artifact for its beauty as well as what it revealed about knitstory - there’s still so much to unravel!
Close Up of Sleep Shirt on Display
Oslo is a Mo-Town
To steal a pun from Sydney, Oslo is a “Mo-Town” and we’re not talking about music. Mohair is all the rage in Oslo! Of the knits we saw on the street, whether they were on the needles or worn by passersby, almost everyone had that mohair glow. Typically it was knit with a strand of wool, similar to the pairings you see on our Rauma Plum page, so the final result was airy but not translucent. Pair this fuzzy fabric with a clean cut sweater silhouette and you’ve got yourself an outfit straight out of an Oslo Street Style magazine spread!
This mo-mania introduced me to a notion I’d never seen before: mohair brushes or Garnbørste in Norwegian. I saw this first at Strikkefeber, an adorable shop with in-house dyed mohair, from Prym. These spiral brushes have soft bristles which help fluff up the fiber to help with that distinct glow. Apparently this is not a new trend, the second picture shows a mohair brush on the far left of a museum display from the 1980s.
Prym Mohair Brush at Strikkefeber
Knitting Notions on Display at the Norse Folk Museum
Now I know what y’all must be thinking - what did you get? Of course my first yarn purchase was a sweater quantity of Finullgarn in a lovely lavender to cast on a Vanilla Sweater for our Sweater KAL! I also picked up a few skeins of Fivel to try out but have no plan for so comment below if you have any pattern recommendations. Overall it was a delightful weekend full of delicious pastries, knitting adventure, and lovely conversations with a dear fiber friend. I hope this gives you your daily dose of knitspiration, and I’m looking forward to stitching along with y’all this KAL!
Norwegian Goodies at TWT: Shop Here!