Early Spring Birds // Iconic Wool Sweaters

Sun is up and coats are off but don’t get yourself caught in a tricky winterish cold. Instead, be inspired by gorgeous knitwear and charming mixture of traditional patterns that never goes out of fashion: Icelandic, Norwegian and Irish wool sweaters.

A lopapeysa (Icelandic meaning from "lopa" = wool, "peysa" = sweater) is an Icelandic style of sweater originated in the 20th century when imports had displaced older and more traditional Icelandic clothing, so people began to search for new ways to utilize the plentiful native wool and knitting skills. The lopapeysas are characterized by a yoke design - a wide decorative circle surrounding the neck opening, which means that there is no difference between the front and the back, unless a zipper is added. The design has since become a national icon for Icelandic cultural identity. Sweaters are made from the finest Icelandic wool. Evolving over 1,100 years of exposure to the sub-Arctic climate, Icelandic wool has a distinctive combination of inner and outer fibers. The outer fibers are long, glossy, tough and water-resistant, while the inner ones are fine, soft and insulating, providing a high resistance to cold.

Fair Isle knitting technique is named after Fair Isle, one of the Shetland islands of Scotland. This design became very popular when the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) wore Fair Isle sweaters in public in 1921. Traditional Fair Isle patterns have a limited palette of five or so colors, use only two colors per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular color. The colorful patterned sweaters are known for their practicality and warmth. 100 Fair Isle sweaters were ordered for the famous 1902 Bruce expedition to Antarctica, iconic style beauties often appear on catwalks, courtesy of fashion houses like Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton.

Traditional Norwegian pattern sweaters in fair isle knitting technique

The Aran sweater takes its name from the set of Aran Islands in Ireland. The islanders were fishermen and farmers whose lives and livelihoods were deeply intertwined. The Aran sweater was born in this environment, passed down from generation to generation and has since become the ultimate symbol of Irish heritage. These sweaters were traditionally knit in the natural colour of sheep’s wool, an off-white or cream color. The natural sheep's wool retained their oils making these sweaters waterproof and perfect for the Irish weather. Originally these sweaters were knit by mothers and wives for the islander men who worked as farmers and fishermen so the Aran sweaters were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following the sea accidents. In the 1950’s, an edition of Vogue Magazine created interest in the sweater and this led to a global demand for the fashionable Aran sweater. Aran sweaters were worn by Pablo Picasso to Grace Kelly to Steve McQueen to Alexa Chung.

Irish Aran fisherman's sweater

A lusekofte or setesdal is a traditional Norwegian sweater, dating from the 19th century, the name referring to the isolated black stitches. The original sweater features a black and white design but after the lusekofte was discovered by tourists in the 1920s, it became so popular and today they are made in many different patterns and colors.

Lusekofte (or setesdal) sweater

A selburose is a knitted rose pattern in the shape of a regular octagram in Norwegian knitting. The pattern is associated with the town of Selbu in Norway, and has become an international symbol of Norway (or Scandinavia generally). The selburose design appears in textiles across European history, and in knitting pattern books from Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany in the 16th to 18th century. It appears to combine designs of Islamic and Christian tradition based on Coptic and Byzantine art, or even the Sumerian Star of Ishtar.


Selburose sweater

Mariusgenser are Norwegian-style knitted sweaters named after World War II flying ace and skier Marius Eriksen. Characterized with the natural colors of sheep wool - black, gray, brown and white, it is incorporated with the colors of the Norwegian flag - red, white and blue. Today Mariusgenser is known as the bestselling and most knitted pattern in Norway. It is considered to be the Norwegian icon that says something about Norwegians' love for the outdoors in the free nature.

Mariusgenser sweater

Comfortable, cosy, warm, woollen, stylish, vintage, forever fashionable, original, authentic, textured, meaningful, long-lasting, waterproof are only a few words that can be used to describe iconic wool sweaters you will find cheaper, perfect-quality and significant to environment sustainability on Second First!


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