Special Knits for Special Occasions

Nancy Bush designed a special knit for a very special occasion—wedding gloves.

Nancy Bush Feb 20, 2019 - 6 min read

Special Knits for Special Occasions Primary Image

Nancy Bush’s beautiful Special Knits for Special Occasions—Norwegian Wedding Gloves. Photo by Joe Coca.

Over the years, PieceWork has included a variety of special knits for special occasions—from a stunning wedding veil (May/June 1998) to a sweet christening gown (May/June 2011). Here we’re focusing on a special knit for a very special occasion—wedding gloves (November/December 2008). Here’s longtime contributor Nancy Bush:

  • Ingeborg Knudsdatter Rogndokken’s knitted white wool wedding gloves, now in the collection of Vesterheim, The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center in Decorah, Iowa, are part of this tradition. Ingeborg was born in 1827 on the Rogndokken farm in the municipality of Vestre Slidre in Valdres, Norway, and she married Ole Arneson Breiseth (1805–1886), who came from the same area of Norway. Ole and Ingeborg immigrated to the United States in 1857; she died in 1916 in Minneapolis. We do not know if Ingeborg made the gloves, if they were given to her, or if she bought them as part of her wedding clothing. We also don’t know when and where she and Ole married.
  • In her book Votten i Norsk Tradisjon [Mittens in the Norwegian Tradition], Ingebjørg Gravjord writes that the wearing of wedding gloves became popular in Scandinavia at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Styles based on those then fashionable in western Europe were adapted to utilize the materials and skills at hand. But the wearing of gloves for other occasions predates this trend: There are records of knitted white cotton gloves from Småland, Sweden, dating from the eighteenth century. Gravjord notes that the province of Dalarna, in Sweden, was known for its knitted decorative white gloves; mannsvantar (men’s gloves) were often sold as bridegroom’s gloves. Artisans from Dalarna traveled great distances to sell their wares, which in addition to knitted goods included baskets and jewelry made from hair. It is likely that decorative knitted gloves arrived in Norway from Sweden and that these imported gloves inspired Norwegian knitters to create their own.

Special Knits

Nancy Bush’s Special Knits for Special Occasions—Norwegian Wedding Gloves. Photo by Joe Coca.

  • Most of the surviving Norwegian gloves made for men had short cuffs; women’s gloves had longer, tapered cuffs that frequently incorporated openwork patterns. The hands on both men’s and women’s gloves were worked in openwork diamonds or other geometric shapes. Sometimes the patterns extended up the fingers and thumb; in this case, the latter was bordered by an openwork zigzag stripe. Some cuff s had fringe, some bore the initials of the wearer and some were decorated with embroidery to highlight an openwork figure on the hand or to add color to the cuff.
  • Gloves intended for a bride were knitted with finer yarn than that used in other women’s gloves or mittens. Sometimes wedding gloves were dyed; black or red were the most popular colors. Red gloves always were knitted in wool; white or black gloves might be of either cotton or wool.
  • The fine work, the ornate patterns, and the tradition of using this style of gloves for weddings together, in some cases, with the extra value of cotton yarn, all combined to make these gloves keepsakes. Many were handed down to future generations, enabling us to appreciate them today.

—Nancy Bush

The images shown here feature Nancy’s companion project—Norwegian Wedding Gloves to Knit. The gloves are truly lovely.
Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Silk, 52% bamboo/43% merino wool/5% silk yarn, 204 yards (187 m)/50 g skein, 1 skein of #3204 Natural Ecru
Needles, set of 5 double-pointed, size 0 (2 mm) or size needed to obtain gauge
Removable markers
Waste yarn to be used as stitch holders
Tapestry needle

Finished size: 8½ inches (21.6 cm) long and 3¾ inches (9.5 cm) wide

Gauge: 17 sts and 24 rnds = 2 inches (5.1 cm) in St st worked in rnds

Special Knits

The palm and back sides of Nancy Bush’s Special Knits for Special Occasions—Norwegian Wedding Gloves. Photo by Ann Swanson.

Download a copy of the November/December 2008 issue of PieceWork to make Nancy’s charming wedding gloves for you or for someone you love.

To make these glorious gloves, download a copy of the January/February 2010 issue of PieceWork. Be sure to read Nancy’s fascinating article, “The Symbolism of Gloves,” from the May/June 2000 issue. Here are a few lines from that article: “The history of gloves is a long and rich tale of romance and intrigue, honor and chivalry, daring and deceit, but long before it acquired these associations, someone had devised gloves to provide warmth and protection to the hands from cold, heat, dirt, and other environmental insults.” Some of the world’s most extraordinary gloves illustrate the article.

Featured Image: Nancy Bush’s beautiful Special Knits for Special Occasions—Norwegian Wedding Gloves. Photo by Joe Coca.