Setesdalskofta is one of the most famous Norwegian cardigans. It is often used by our royal family. Crown prince Haakon wore it when he lit the olympic fire during the winter olympics in 1994. It has also been seen on popstars, members of the parliament and even on prince Charles of England.
The Setesdal sweater was a mans garment from the beginning. People in Setesdal started wearing it in the 1850s, when they stopped wearing short pants and started wearing long black trousers with leather on the bottom.
The painter Adolph Tidemand made a sketch in 1848 of a man from Valle with a patterned knitted sweater. A lot of people say that this is the first “lusekofte” (lice cardigan – another name for the Setesdal cardigan) in the Setesdal Valley.
It exists a number of different variations of this pattern, and the Norwegian knitting expert Annemor Sundbø has listed about 30 of them in her book “Lusekofta fra Setesdal”. All the oldest cardigans are white on the lowest part, as this part was hidden in the pants.
The people in Setesdal started early to use knitting machines. The oldest one recorded is from about 1860. With the machines they could produce the cardigans quicker, and this is probably why the use of the Setesdalskofta exploded in the end of the 1800s.
The first Setesdal sweaters pictured in the magazines are from after year 1900. In the 1930s the recipes increased in numbers and the knitting factories published their own patterns. They became popular to wear while skiing. Now the women started wearing them too.
In 2013 the famous knitting designer Arne & Carlos revitalised the Setesdal sweaters even more by publishing a book of redesigns called “Strikk fra Setesdal- tradisjon med ny vri”
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