Traditional Danish Sweaters: 200 Stars and Other Classic Motifs from Historic Sweaters

Traditional Danish Sweaters: 200 Stars and Other Classic Motifs from Historic Sweaters

by Vivian Hoxbro


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From a little-known chapter of knitting history comes the Danish “night sweater”—part of women’s traditional dress in the 1800s, these sweaters have long been overlooked in surveys of Scandinavian handcrafting and design. But now celebrated Danish knitting expert Vivian Hњxbro has brought together diligent research, comprehensive charts, and her own painstaking efforts to reconstruct these carefully-preserved garments to create a unique collection of single-color relief patterns. Within, knitted, purled, and crossed stitches form hundreds of classic star motifs, edgings, horizontal and vertical pattern panels, and striking “traveling stitch” designs.

Learn the history of night sweaters in Denmark, with a rundown of special techniques and regional knitting practices, and then dive into a neatly-organized library of 200 charts for motifs of all kinds. Follow step-by-step instructions as you reconstruct traditional Danish sweaters in contemporary sizes, work traditionally-inspired patterns for a stole, top, tunic, and more—or use these motifs, edgings, and decorative panels in projects of your own design.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781570769245
Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Publication date: 07/15/2019
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 142,970
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Vivian Hoxbro has been designing knitwear for more than 20 years and is the author of Domino Knitting and Shadow Knitting.

Table of Contents

Preface 10
Preface by Maj Ringgaard 12
200 motifs from 200-year-old sweaters 16
A Night Sweater? 20
What a Night Sweater Looks Like 22
History of the Night Sweater 26
Yarn and Needles 30
Dyeing 32
Regional Distinctions and Characteristics 36
Knitting History 42
Many Words for Knitting: lænke,
pregle, binde, knytte, strikke 46
Danish Knitted Handwork in the 1800s 50
Hannes’ Knitting Verse 55
Three Knitting Methods 56
Cast-ons 62
Cables 68
Crossed Stitches 71
Horizontal Stitches 76
Overlapping Edges 77
3-needle Bind-off 77
200 Patterns 80
Stars 82
Horizontal Panels 92
Vertical Crossed- and Star Patterns 96
Vertical Panels 102
Background Patterns 116
Edging Patterns 134
Hillerød Sweater 142
Eskilstrup Sweater 150
Tunic 158
Frenderup Sweater 164
Annie’s Sweater 174
Fantasy Sweater 182
Aastrup Sweater 192
Stole 200
Nysted Sweater 208
Top 216
Kirsten’s Sweater 224
Knit your own Night Sweater 234
Knitting Help 244
Clothing Terms 247
Knitting Vocabulary 248
Abbreviations 250
Symbols 251


I have 2120 Facebook friends and 1243 Instagram followers, many from the US. I have traveled all over the US, 22 states, and taught knitting classes and given talks. American knitters were very interested in traditional sweaters and the Danish knitting history.


A number of years ago, I visited Falster Minder Museum in Nykøbing, Denmark for the Sunday Weekly magazine. Birgit Schytt, the textile curator, opened drawer after drawer with knitted sweaters (the so-called “night sweaters”) from the nineteenth-century women’s costumes which she clearly venerated. All the sweaters are single color – many green, some red, and a few blue or black. Most were knitted with only knit and purl stitches, while others featured crossed stitches. They were quite felted and torn, but they all shared a fantastic wealth of pattern.

I felt that messages flew out of the drawers for me, both from the sweaters and from the people who had knitted them and I became very moved. Think of the women who, almost 200 years ago, had conceived these unbelievable patterns! Those who knitted the sweaters became alive for me. I sensed that some had knitted out of duty, some for love of handwork. On some of the sweaters, the patterns were beautifully formed; others were less skillfully worked. Some of the patterns were perfectly designed, others unsymmetrical and muddled in their construction. What more could the sweaters tell us?

I later had the opportunity to visit the Lolland-Falster Museum every Thursday for more than a year. After that, I visited several other museums in Denmark – on Sjælland (Hillerød and Kalundborg), Fyn (Odense), and Jylland (Ribe, Varde, Herning and Holstebro). I studied sweater after sweater. I photographed, sketched, and knitted all the motifs. This led to the documentation of 87 knitted complete night sweaters as well as a number of sleeves and front pieces (brystduge). In the course of my research, I was greatly privileged to be able to examine at least half of the preserved Danish night sweaters. Most of the preserved sweaters are stored on Falster (where I live) and Lolland and they are the backbone of this book.

Copies of the sweaters, which our great- and great-great great grandmothers wore, can, with a few small adjustments, be worn today. This book includes patterns for some of the old sweaters in contemporary sizing. Stars were a stylish motif in nineteenth-century knitting and star designs also embellish the new sweaters in this book. You’ll also find a multitude of star motifs to try. I hope the old patterns will inspire you to new designs!

The traditional night sweaters are so beautiful and the techniques so sophisticated –they deserve notice and I want this book to pay tribute to them. It is good to remember that we are nothing without our past. For that reason, it is very important for those of us who love knitting to learn a little about our knitting history.

Best wishes,

Vivian Høxbro

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