Norwegian sweaters for man’s best friend

Thanks to his owner’s knitting skills, Ole the chihuahua will stay warm all winter

By Carstens Smith
Norwegian American Weekly

Ole the Chihuahua. Photo: Angela Rindquist

Ole the Chihuahua. Photo: Angela Ringquist

“If I can knit a Scandinavian design, I can knit anything,” says Angela Ringquist. Angela merged her love of Norwegian traditions, knitting, and her dog, Ole the Chihuahua, when she took the “Knit a Norwegian Sweater for Your Dog” class at Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“My grandmother knitted over 100 Norwegian sweaters for members of our family,” says Angela. “It’s almost a case of you can’t be part of the family unless you have one of the sweaters. I want to learn to knit a Norwegian sweater so I can continue that tradition.” She also wanted to keep her Chihuahua warm during the Minnesota winter, so the class seemed to be the perfect solution.

Angela appears to be well on her way of knitting 100 Norwegian sweaters for Ole. She sets out a stack of sweaters she has made for her dog, all filled with familiar reindeer, star, and heart patterns. Paul Robinson, who teaches the class and made the patterns for the students, is pleased that Angela feels confident in her knitting and is willing to change the pattern and design to suit her dog and her fancy. “While knitting is a tradition, you can be adventurous and try new things,” he says.  “That’s right,” says Lynne Ohlmann, “knit by day and rip by night. But you learn best that way.” Lynne joined the class to push herself to learn the skills for making herself a Norwegian sweater. “I’m an advanced beginner and I have been an advanced beginner for years. This class helped me kick start my knitting to a higher level of skill.” Lynne says that keeping the traditions of her parents and grandparents are important to her and she wanted to learn Norwegian patterns. She’s now putting those patterns on her cavachon, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and Bischon Frise cross.

From left: Paul Robinson, Lynne Holman & Angela Ringquist. Photo: Carstens Smith.

From left: Paul Robinson, Lynne Holman & Angela Ringquist. Photo: Carstens Smith.

Paul is a lifelong knitter who is committed to keeping traditions alive. “I learned to knit by sitting in my grandmother’s lap with a pair of plastic needles. She would make a stitch then she would have me make a stitch,” Paul explains. The sweater pattern developed by Paul is based on designs used by his grandmother, Grace Erickson of Fertile, Minnesota. His grandmother’s ancestor’s came from the Vestfold region, just southeast of Oslo. Grace preserved the designs and patterns that she learned from her family and carefully charted them. Paul is the only grandchild who is carrying on the knitting tradition in the family, so his mother made sure that the charts were passed on to Paul.

Paul brought his skills, traditions, and sense of humor to the table when he was asked to create a class that would help knitters learn new skills and move them towards the goal of designing and knitting their own Norwegian sweater. He immediately suggested the dog sweater. “It’s a small, manageable project and dog owners really enjoy making something that keeps their pets warm and happy.” The class has been a success and a follow-up class in now in the planning stages: Knit a Norwegian Sweater to Match Your Dog’s.

For more information about the classes visit: www.ingebretsens.com

This article was originally published in the Norwegian American Weekly on March 13, 2009. For subscription information and to find out more about the Norwegian American Weekly, call us toll free at (800) 305-0217 or email us at naw@norway.com.

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