Subscribe to our Youtube channel

Let’s talk about the stories behind the iconic XO pattern!

We were overwhelmed with the response we got after we published the first episode of our new miniseries “Norwegian Knitting Patterns and the Stories Behind Them” a few weeks ago! So, we decided to take advantage of this momentum and publish the second episode as soon as possible. This week on our channel, we are going to tell you the stories behind the most iconic pattern in Norway, the XO pattern, which has been used in the traditional lice sweaters from Setesdal since colour work came to Norway, in the 1850s.

We hope you enjoy this week’s history lesson as well as learning more about what the XO pattern really means. See the video below:


Please accept YouTube cookies to play videos on
By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.


As promised, here are a few references to some of the books that we talk about in the video:

This book by Annemor Sundbø is called “Setesdal Sweaters: The history of the Norwegian Lice Pattern in English”. Click on the image for more.

Click on the image for more information about Laila Durán’s excellent books on Norwegian Folk Costumes!

Here is a book about Norwegian Stave Churches which is available from Amazon. Click on the image for more.

This week, on our web shop, you can purchase the pattern for both hats on the picture above: Tobias and Sveinung, as well as the pattern for our latest hat, Annemor. Click here to access the webshop or click on the photos of each hat below to access them directly:

Sveinung hat. Click on image to purchase the pattern.


Tobias hat. Click on image to purchase the pattern


New! Annemor hat. Click on image to purchase the pattern.



February 29, 2020: Meet and Greet at Rowan’s global flagship store, Rowan at Osprey in St. Albans, UK, from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

March 2 – 9, 2020 and March 8 – 16, 2020: Knitting under the Aurora Borealis onboard the Norwegian Coastal Express, Norway. 2 cruises. (sold out)

March 27 – April 7, 2020: Knitting Cruise in New Zealand (sold out). 

June 4 – 10, 2020:  English Stately Homes, Gardens and Knitting in the U.K. (sold out)

September 11 – 24, 2020: Knitting Along the Most Beautiful Coastline in the World, Onboard the Norwegian Coastal Express, Norway. The classic roundtrip. (Only one spot left. Click here for more)

October 9-12, 2020: Knitting retreat in Tono, Japan. Priority will be given to local knitters from the Tohoku area and to members of the ARNE & CARLOS Fan Club JAPAN.

And: The reason why we didn’t do a blog post last week is that we went on a marathon tour of South Africa and spent 5 days travelling like crazy (luckily there is no jet lag as there is only 1 hour time difference) as we are busy planning an exciting knitting trip there in November 2020, where we will visit the Karoo region to learn everything there is to know about the best Mohair in the world, as well as to knit in the stunning wine country around Franschhoek and also to knit while on safari. An official announcement is coming and sign ups will open up very soon!

Wishing you a great week ahead!

From our safari in South Africa earlier this week. Keep you eyes peeled for the launch of the knitting trip of a life time!!



PS: We have received many complaints about the books we posted in the previous video. Many people found them to be extremely expensive and we’d like to address this issue: If the books are out of print, and it seems as the English translations of the books we recommended might have been, it is sometimes possible to buy them used, and perhaps, that’s the reason why they are so expensive. We really do not know and don’t have any answers as to why they cost so much, as we are just the messengers here. Unfortunately, we have no control or no say over how the prices are set. We purchased our copies in Norwegian language a long time ago and at a normal price.

    • Kathy on February 17, 2020 at 3:43 am


    I appreciated all the books and information you had on today. Maybe the complainers can find it at the library? 😀

    • MARTHIE HORN on February 17, 2020 at 3:57 am



  1. Reply

    The drapes should have been closed behind Carlos. Seem like an uncomfortable glare. Fantastic information and yes, a guest a couple of times a year would be okay. Are there other countries known for an original sweater pattern?

    • Donna Stupfel-Smith on February 17, 2020 at 4:47 am


    That was fascinating. I appreciate the history. Get the guests.

    • Terry Pryke on February 17, 2020 at 6:08 am


    Delighted to hear of your up coming trip to South Africa.Will you be offering /holding classes/lectures to local South Africans to participate in?

    1. Reply

      That’s the plan.

    • Kitty on February 17, 2020 at 6:52 am


    So interesting! Thanks for the education!

    • Maj-Brit on February 17, 2020 at 10:29 am


    Thank you so much for your history lesson, very interesting. My mother knitted a Norwegian jumper for me years ago. Just had a look and it did have the X and O. I hope you can get Annemor on your podcast.
    All the best.

    • Kim E on February 17, 2020 at 11:01 am


    A fascinating, informative, well-presented and very enjoyable podcast. It was great to hear about Norwegian culture and history. It is incredible that your strong tradition of colour work knitting is so recent in history. I think it would be very entertaining to see you two interacting with guests!

    • Nerisssa on February 17, 2020 at 12:51 pm


    I recently took a short course at about the preservation of Norwegian stave churches. I had never heard of a stave church, but the course was interesting as it showed how the churches were designed and constructed, and the efforts underway to preserve them. Thank you for the knitting history lessons!

    • Valerie Wood on February 17, 2020 at 1:29 pm


    We are cruising around Norway in July. Sooooo exciting. Thanks for the lead on Stave churches. Any local yarn shops or suggested areas in Bergen, Flam, Alesund, or Geiranger? THANK YOU!

    • Jan Kroyer on February 17, 2020 at 4:30 pm


    Yes other Norwegain guests would be nice occasionally . Please keep the guests Norwegain

    • Robin on February 17, 2020 at 5:20 pm


    Love you two, as always, and really appreciate learning about the history of X AND O patterning. As a science teacher, I also wonder if the black might also have been showing to absorb sunlight, sort of passive heating…

    • Linda Pursley on February 17, 2020 at 5:53 pm


    Definitely interview Annemor! I made a Husfliden pattern from the late 70s early 80s that was in rose and cream colors. It has lice and uses most of the traditional motifs. I showed it to you at the Another Yarn retreat…you may recall the sweater had some pine resin because I wore it to cut my Christmas tree! Love the combination of history and culture. Keep up the good work.

    • Debbie on February 17, 2020 at 7:41 pm



    Can you please help me? I’m knitting your Eir fishbone hat – it’s knitting up really lovely but I’m having trouble with the crown. I’ve knitted rows 40 and 41 and they look fine but I don’t think I understand how row 42 onwards works. Do you have any tutorials on decreasing with more than one colour that I could watch on YouTube? Thank you!

    1. Reply

      There is a tutorial on decreasing the crown of the colour work hats coming very soon, so keep your eyes peeled! Other than that, please send your questions through our website’s contact sheet. We are not able to help you through the comments field on the blog.

    • Kitty on February 17, 2020 at 7:55 pm


    A&C, I am wondering if the loss of the “lice” in the 50’s-60’s, resulting in no floats on the interior of the sweater, and therefore making it less warm, might reflect changes in home heating in those years, making the need for warm clothes less of a priority?

    • Barb in CA on February 17, 2020 at 8:31 pm


    I think Annemor would be a wonderful guest. I vote YES. This episode was terrific, I enjoyed every new fact (new to me). I hope the next episode is soon. I can’t wait to see you in about 2 weeks for the cruise from Bergen. I can’t believe how time has flown. I can hardly sit still I’m so excited.
    Can I bring you anything from California?

    1. Reply

      Looking forward to meeting you soon!

    • Jessica on February 17, 2020 at 8:54 pm


    I love the book recommendations, regardless of price. Some of my best resources have been somewhat more expensive books. There is always the library, online libraries, and of course saving up to purchase a really lovely book. Please keep recommending great books and pay no attention to the price. You have no control over the price of a book you mention.
    Thank you & just wanted to let you know I really enjoy your channel.

    • Sandy Chapman on February 17, 2020 at 10:06 pm


    Thank you for your very interesting series on the history and culture of Norwegian knitting! I am also enjoying the book references you share. You mentioned in this podcast the use of the black and white yarns as they came straight from the sheep and not dyed. As a knitter and a spinner, and a collector of old Scandinavian spinning wheels, I wonder if either of you spin? If so, maybe you can show some old Scandinavian wheels used to create this yarn sometime.

    • Katherine Frydenborg on February 17, 2020 at 11:21 pm


    Yes, guests would be wonderful! My introduction to Nordic knitting was through Vibeke Lind in the 1980’s and continued with 3 books by Lise Kolstad and Tone Takle as well as numerous Dale knitting books and patterns. I treasure all that I have learned (and of course the sweaters I have made!). More information and history is welcome. Thank you for thinking of this series.

    • Mardelle on February 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm


    LOVE, LOVE this series on the history of Norwegian patterns.
    And YES, please have Annemor as a guest on your program. She is a Norwegian treasure!

    Question: A teacher at the college I attended (St Olaf College) would go to Norway each summer and bring back Norwegian sweaters. to sell to the students.
    I bought one in 1962 – yoke pattern cardigan. $25. No pattern in the body of the sweater.
    I always thought it was hand knit. But after this XO history lesson, I wonder if it was hand-machine knit. The knitting is so incredibly even.
    I still wear it 🙂

    • Sandra on February 20, 2020 at 8:34 pm


    Having guests, I think, would be fun and informative!
    Thank you for this video, it was so educational.

    • grete klingenberg on March 10, 2020 at 4:14 pm


    i love the story about the xxx. setersdal historie. I think you should have some guests. “Fruity knitting” has guests all the time.
    Jeg ser frem til mere historie. Hilsen grete klingenberg

    • Deborah Anne Alchin on May 9, 2020 at 4:39 am


    Thank you very much for this program. Hearing the history behind the designs adds so much more meaning and makes the knits very special.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.