On the floor of Norway’s Dale factory

Iconic knitwear brand honors the past and looks to the future

Dale nature

The new Dale line, full of vibrant color, offers an exciting blend of traditional and modern design.

Louise Lysne Hanson
Rochester, Minn.

Last May, my husband, Walter, and I took the hour-long train ride from Bergen on Norway’s west coast to the Dale valley on a cloudy and cool morning. We were so happy to meet our friend Lorentz at the station when we arrived.

dale

There are bright colors in the new Dale line, but red, white, and blue remain popular.

It had been a few years since we had been in Dale. The Dale of Norway factory looked the same, a massive white building a few steps from the train station. The houses up the hill and down by the factory were dwarfed by this presence.

Our first stop was on the factory floor. There are so many knitting machines working away; the hum of the machines was at times difficult to talk over. These machines work two or three shifts every weekday, and there is always an engineer on hand to troubleshoot any knitting issues with the machines

We saw how the sweaters are made in large pieces. The technical designers are able to create patterns that knit each piece without waste. The saving of extra yarn and energy is truly a sustainable effort. As pieces fell from the machines, they are picked up and placed on wide tables. Sleeves are then attached.

The sweaters are then sent to the finishing area where special y2K zippers, buttons, patches, and trim are attached. Every detail is important. Finally, they are steamed, tagged and double checked before packaging for inventory or for shipping.

dale

Dale sweaters are made in large pieces, but there is very little waste in the production process.

We were able to meet with the product manager and the current designer. The vision of the authentic Norwegian brand still holds true. That being said, there is a little experimentation with colors and profiles. One of the staff was trying on new models to test the fit. The new 2024 fashion colors of pink and turquoise are vibrant. Of course, classic black, white, red, and blue will always be available.

We then enjoyed a cup of coffee with the Dale marketing team. We were so excited to actually see the collection for fall 2023 in the presentation room. We had only seen these items in photographs! We knew the fall line would be great, but this gave credence to that thought.

The photo shoots of the brand were shown. There is a farm just up the road, a romantic Norwegian place at the foot of the mountain with two red houses. That farm scene was our favorite photo and it would resonate with the U.S. customer.

On our way back to Bergen, Lorentz drove us to the top of the hill where we could view the dam. It was breathtaking to see the mountain still covered in snow and see the water spilling down the mountain. This is where the hydro power starts and where the Dale factory gets their energy, truly sustainable. We can’t wait to go back to Dale again.

dale factory

Last spring, Walter Hanson (far left) of The Nordic Shop in Rochester, Minn., visited the Dale sweater factory, where he and his wife and co-owner, Louise Hanson, learned about the production and new lines.

Photos courtesy of The Nordic Shop

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE.

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Louise Lysne Hanson

Louise Lysne Hanson is the co-owner of The Nordic Shop in Rochester, Minn., with her husband, Walter. She is also on the board of directors of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Learn more at thenordicshop.net.