A year or so ago, Vogue Knitting magazine ran an article about a new book by Danish knitting expert Vivian Hoxbro, Traditional Danish Sweaters. As the name implies, the book was about traditional Danish knitted garments, somewhat misleadingly named “night sweaters”. (The name is somewhat misleading because – spoiler alert! – although they were worn at night, they were also worn during the day, sometimes as sort of underclothes, sometimes as a partially visible layer.)
From the article, the book sounded pretty awesome – some historical research, some nifty photos of these garments in museums, a stitch dictionary, and some contemporary patterns to boot. The catch? It was only available in Danish.
At the time, I cursed Vogue Knitting magazine for this article. “Why do you taunt me with interesting books I cannot read, Vogue Knitting magazine?” I literally said, more than once. However, in hindsight, I’m glad they did. Because the article made me keep checking Amazon, hoping it would show up someday. Knitting books don’t often make the news, so it’s easy for them to sneak by you if you aren’t keeping a lookout for them 🙂
And it is pretty awesome! It is nicely written and well illustrated with lots of clear photos and charts. The historical research is interesting, and just at a good balance of being detailed enough to give you a decent grounding on the subject, but also not too much. The stitch dictionary is very extensive and nicely presented with example photos and clear charts. The patterns themselves are also great! There is a good range of styles, covering most of the historical variations on the garment type that the author discusses.
What are the sweaters themselves like?
Mostly the sweaters rely on texture, not color, for their patterning. There is one color-work sweater in the book, and one that incorporates a little bit of accent color, but mostly the designs are knits and purls, with some accent traveling stitches and very occasional light cabling. The motifs are mostly Scandinavian-ish, but they seem much more restrained because they are texture and not color. My impression is they are somewhere between Norwegian ski sweaters and British ganseys.
In any case, if you are interested in traditional sweater construction and patterning (and if not, why not?) you will like this book.