Norwegian Star: The Most Famous Mittens in the World

By Carol J. Sulcoski
September 8, 2021

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37 Comments
  • I just received my copy of “Selbu Mittens” in the mail yesterday! What a fabulous book! I’m thinking about knitting my way through the book as my first retirement project, and donating the results. I’ll likely not make my way entirely through the book, but it will be fun to make a start!

  • Love this story! So rich and beautiful! Thank you.

  • Heartwarming story. I didn’t know the history of Selbu until I read this.

  • Annemore Sundbø was just interviewed by Arne & Carlos, Norwegian knit designers on their podcast. Great historical information there, too. Thanks for this.

    • Yes, I saw it also.

    • Such a fabulous interview!!

      • What a great little history lesson. Thank you for sharing.

  • That sweater with the Dancers and Prancers running around the yoke…I’m going to have one of those! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • I love this story. My husband is of Norwegian ancestry and will also appreciate the history lesson! This makes me want to knit mittens!

  • For more information about Norwegian craft traditions – including knitting! – and an interview with Annemor Sundbø, Arne and Carlos have just started a video series on YouTube https://arnecarlos.com/blog/

  • Some of us from our NYC knitting group have been immersing ourselves in Norwegian knitting, starting with Selbu mittens. Now we’re on sweaters. Because of Covid, we have been taking amazing on line classes with Patricia of Knitography Farm in Norway. She’s an American expat who has lived in Norway for decades. Highly recommended.

    • Patricia is wonderful!!! Love all of her classes and rich history lessons she gives!

    • Looked for this site on the internet. Please help me find it.

  • I always see a Poinsettia ! I love this story , the universal story of women creating art for all of us to use everyday!

    • I’ve always thought it was a Poinsettia too! This was a very interesting article.

  • My husband and I are part way through a Norwegian detective drama, Outlier on Acorn TV. One of the first things I did was point out the main character’s sweater, and explain to him about Norwegian Stars. So this article is very timely!
    PS I recommend the show, excellent drama with beautiful scenery, and lots of sweaters!

    • Thanks for the Outlier recommendation– I love Nordic noir.

      • I love this history lesson, too. I have knitted this motif into many hats but didn’t realize it was Norwegian until a neighbor of Norse descent told me. Now I want to knit those mittens!! Takk!

  • Wonderful information on the history of Selbu mittens. Many thanks.

  • I grew up wearing Selbu mittens knitted by my Grandma, here in the US, and was sometimes weirded out by people’s comments about my mittens (and hat and sweater…). Now I cherish those few mittens I have left that didn’t get lost or ruined in my childhood! I’m SO grateful that she taught me to knit when I was a kid, so that I can continue her legacy of knitting knowledge within our family.

    • Lucky you! I married into a Norwegian-American family and immediately fell in love with all things Norwegian especially the knitting.

  • I’ve just finished my first pair of Selbu mittens. Having never done this kind of knitting before, it was a challenge but I really enjoyed it and the mittens are lovely. I used a “beginner” level pattern from Skeindeer Knits, Speedy Selbu Mittens. This pattern calls for Aran weight yarn (I used Lopi) which I think made it a bit easier. Now I feel ready to move to her more complicated patterns in fingering.

  • Having lived in Norway for a year as a teenager during one of the coldest winters in their history at that time, I can vouch for both the need for such warm knitted items and for having plenty of time to design and knit them!

  • Such an interesting article. Thank you.

  • This was wonderful! Thank you for sharing the history of Selbu.

  • Such an interesting article! It brought me back to hw so many craft patterns are geometric and can be translated into knitting, crochet, needlepoint, quilting, etc. It also brought me back to how these patterns patterns are ancient. For example, when i first learned hand quilting and piecing, I chose quilting lines for the sashing that were curvy, kind of resembling a basic cable. I think the book where I found it said that it had been an ancient symbol of the sun god. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I saw the same design carved into a church door in Prague! We are all connected, no?

    Unfortunately, I never finished quilting the quilt, as it was destroyed during a move.

  • Tusen takk for this story! I love the Selbu rose, although I always see it as a snowflake.

  • Great article!

  • This also makes me think of certain quilting motifs!

  • ONG, Jordan almonds. It’s a miracle if you don’t break a molar on those things. Bite into a mitten, and no worries!

  • Jordan almonds? Not something with which I am familiar. Used at wedding celebrations?

    • Whole almonds encased in a (usually) pastel covered, rock hard, candy coating. They’re supposedly a slight aphrodisiac which maybe be why a small number of them in little paper containers are given as gifts to each guest at some wedding. The name is a corruption of Jardin, French for garden. The oldy safe way to eat them without risking your dental healthis to suck one until the coating has dissolved and only then bite down.

      • Growing up in an Italian family in Australia, we called sugared almonds ‘confetti’. Imagine my childish confusion at the idea of throwing the things at a bride and groom!

  • Thank you for this great piece on Selbu design and to everyone for their comments. I got into all things Norwegian during Covid isolation. It started with color work mittens with a bird design, then IG photos of Svalbard, then found Arne and Carlos and made some of their Christmas balls, then learning Norwegian on an app. Tusen takk.

  • Last fall, desperate for mental relief from the limitations of the pandemic, I signed up for an online traditional Norwegian Selbu knitting class by Patricia of Knitography. She told told us the history of the Selbu knitting as well as giving us methodical instruction in how to knit the mittens. It was a great joy and I signed up for two more of her classes. A great respite from world events with a beautiful result.

  • What a wonderful and fascinating story!

  • Thank you for the wonderful history of Selbu. My Grandfather came to the US from Norway in about 1908. Now I want to learn to knit the Selburose in honor of that heritage.